Credit Card Safety – Prevent Identity Theft

Dec 18, 2009

Credit card safety is more important than ever, now that identity theft has become big business. Not only can a credit card thief use it to run up huge debts in your name, the talented ones can use it to gain access to even more of your personal information.

You cannot completely eliminate risk, but you can take steps to minimize it.

The first thing you should do with every credit card is record the number, the expiration date, the numbers on the back, and the number to call if your card is lost or stolen. And keep this record in a safe place where it can’t be easily accessed by prying eyes.

A safe or a safe deposit box would be a good place. A file in your laptop labeled “Credit card numbers” would not be a good place, especially if you carry your laptop with you.

Next, never leave your purse or wallet out of your sight. If you must leave either in an employee break room or in a gym locker, leave your credit cards either at home or tucked in your pocket. Your checkbook should also be at home or on your person at all times.

A locked car is not a safe place, even in a well-lighted parking lot.

Restaurants can be dangerous

Every day in restaurants across the nation, credit card holders are leaving themselves wide open to credit card and identity theft.

How? By handing their cards to their servers when the bill is presented. The servers take the card, run it through the machine, and bring the receipt back for a signature. Most of the time, that’s fine.

But it takes only one dishonest employee to take an impression of the card and make note of the numbers on the reverse. Think how many card numbers a person could accumulate over one week-end in a busy restaurant. The wait person is probably not the end user of these numbers, but instead is the middle man – gathering the numbers to be sold.

Telephones are dangerous, too

There’s just one hard and fast rule to use with regard to telephones: Never give out any information – whether it’s your credit card number, your address, or even your date of birth – unless you are the one who placed the call.

When anyone calls you asking for private information, hang up. Even if they seem to know all about you, and can tell you your credit card account numbers – don’t talk to them. Even if they say they represent your bank or your credit card issuer – Hang up and call the number you have on file. Never call a number they give you.

It’s sad to realize that we have crooks in our midst, but we do. It’s up to you to protect yourself from them.

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