To get the perfect holiday presents for your mom, spouse, niece, crazy uncle and everyone else on your list, you are probably using your credit card at a lot of new stores and websites – and identity thieves know it. They know you are rushing to get the best deal and that the fast-paced nature of the holidays makes you more likely to make a security slip-up. Protect yourself from identity theft this holiday season, and every season, by following these four tips.
4 tips for keeping your credit card info safe
Be careful online
Online shopping scams are getting elaborate. On Black Friday, scammers were creating entire websites with “deals” to lure people into giving them credit card information. To avoid problems when online shopping, follow these three tips:
- Check if the site encrypts your personal information by looking at the URL. If the URL begins with “https” or has a padlock next to it, it is a secure website.
- Research the credibility of the company. Does the Better Business Bureau endorse it? What do online reviewers say about the company’s service?
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi. Wait until you are on a secure Wi-Fi network to make purchases or check your financial accounts.
Protect the paper
You need physical security to keep yourself safe, not just digital. While crime shows are full of extravagant, illogical storylines, the ones about criminals digging through your trash for personal information are 100% true. Thieves can use what they find – pre-approved credit cards, credit card bills, bank statements, etc. – to commit anything from tax fraud to bank fraud.
Shred your mail before tossing it out.
Check your financial accounts regularly
This won’t prevent identity theft, but it will stop things from going from bad to worse. Closely monitor your transaction history and report discrepancies as soon as possible. Fraudulent charges are easier to dispute the sooner you report them.
It is also important to check your credit regularly. CreditKarma.com is a user-friendly tools for keeping up with your credit report and it will even alert you when there is a significant change on your report. In addition, WalletHub recently became the first and only website to offer free credit scores and full credit reports that are updated on a daily basis.
Take advantage of new tech
Did you know half of the world’s credit card fraud happens in America? This is partially due to the fact that we are behind the rest of the world in credit card technology. While we are still using credit cards with magnetic strips, the rest of the world is using chip cards. A chip card is a credit card that contains an embedded microchip that encrypts information to increase data security when making transactions at a chip-enabled terminal. In addition to the encryption, you can also add a PIN number to your card for added security.
Fortunately, chip and PIN cards are soon going to be the norm in the U.S. In October 2015 a liability shift is happening. When the liability shift happens, whichever party has the lesser technology will bear the liability of credit fraud. No one wants to bear that liability so banks and retailers are updating to the safest tech – chip cards. Get yours as soon as possible.
No deal is worth losing your identity. Be aware and be cautious when using your credit card and handling personal information.