Identity theft can be the worst thing you ever had to go through. At their best, credit cards and debit cards are only as safe as you make them, so follow these steps to avoid having your personal information stolen and used to financially ruin you:
- Secure your pin number. Memorize it, and don’t write it down. When possible, run your card as “credit” and avoid using your pin.
- Keep contact information for all of your lenders on you at all times, separate from your cards. This way, if your cards are stolen, you can quickly report the theft and have the cards canceled.
- Sign up for automated alerts from your credit card issuers, and be aware of email scams. Shred paper statements.
- If you shop online, make sure your anti-virus on your computer is up to date, and that your online passwords are strong and changed regularly.
- Login to view your statements several times a month, and check for charges you didn’t make or fraudulent spending patterns.
- Watch anyone who is handling your card. Object if a cashier tries to leave their post with your card, or attempts to slide it into their pocket (“pocket swipers” can read your card info and store it for later fraud.)
Also, if you receive a credit card application in the mail, shred it. Paper applications risk being stolen and altered, so use a secure online application process instead. Following these guidelines can make your credit experience safer and help prevent identity theft.
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