Defend against credit card fraud
13 tips for keeping your credit card accounts secure.
We love credit cards for lots of reasons. They’re safer than carrying cash. They offer perks like rewards and extended warranties. And they make it easy to track spending. Unfortunately, credit card information is often the target of thieves. Here are 13 tips for keeping your account information secure.
Beware of public Wi-Fi
Public networks are usually unencrypted and open to anyone, including those with prying eyes. Do not make any purchases, enter passwords or do online banking on public Wi-Fi where snoops can easily intercept your info.
Only share your number with those you contact
Your financial institution or credit card issuer will never call and ask you to verify your number. Only share your credit card number when you’ve initiated a transaction by phone or online.
When shopping online, look for https:// in the address bar and the the lock symbol to be sure a website is secure.
Don’t respond to emails pretending to be your card issuer
A common ploy is to send out emails “phishing” for credit card numbers and other personal information. These emails are designed to look like they are from your financial institution, even using their logos. If you’re suspicious of an email, look at the sender’s address. If it doesn’t match your institution’s, delete it and do not click on any links.
If you think your bank is contacting you, call the customer service number on your card or log in to their website by typing in the website name yourself.
Don’t email your card number
Emails are not secure, and hackers using search tools could steal your account number. Never send your credit card via email.
Use card lock if it’s available
Some credit card issuers allow you to lock or freeze you credit card. You can initiate a lock online or using an app to turn your account on or off. This is an especially good feature for cards you seldom use or if you misplace your card. (Note: This is different than a credit freeze at the credit bureaus.)
To temporarily lock your Consumers credit card, follow these steps.
Let your card know when you’re traveling
Credit card companies are always on alert for fraud. If they notice charges at unusual locations, they may block your account. Let your card issuer know when and where you’ll be traveling so your purchases go through and they can be alert to suspicious activity.
Don’t permit merchants to keep your card number on file
Yes, keeping your credit card on file with a merchant makes one-click purchases easy. However, thieves often go after the data at retailers. You’ve seen the data breach stories in the news time and again. It will take a few extra moments to enter your card info with each purchase but it will also protect you.
Guard your PIN
There’s no reason to give your PIN to anyone. Ever.
Change your PIN if you know or suspect someone else knows it.
Watch out for skimmers
Skimmers are portable devices that thieves attach to an ATM or gas pump. Carefully observe key pads and card readers and learn how to avoid skimmers. If something looks off, play it safe and don’t use the machine. Find another ATM or pay for gas inside the station.
Shred documents with card number
Many billing statements include a complete credit card number. If dumpster divers get their hands on yours, they gain a valuable piece of information. Shred anything with account numbers, including statements and old cards.
Check receipts before you sign
Verify that your purchase was accurately rung up. If there are blank spaces on the receipt, enter $0 or draw a line through them before you sign. A dishonest cashier could write in an amount and pocket the extra.
Keep your computer safe
Anti-virus and anti-spyware products are not one-and-done. Set up automatic updates or make sure you update them frequently.
Also, be on guard against software products that pretend to protect your computer from viruses but are actually malware designed to access your confidential information. Only use software from reputable sources. Beware of those that you might see in a pop-up ad or as an email link.
Save receipts and verify statements
At least once a month, monitor your account. Cross-check your receipts with the charges on your billing statement. If unauthorized charges appear, notify your card issuer right away.
Consumers provides banking services for more than 100,000 members. If you have banking questions, call us at 800-991-2221. We make it easy to bank how you want, when you want.
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