Keeping your credit card safe is something that most of us take for granted. After all, we use our cards for everything from paying for everyday expenses to booking hotels and flights. And, with the rising cost of everything from beef to gasoline, it makes sense that many of us keep our cards within easy reach. But, as with any other type of personal information – such as a Social Security number or password – keeping your card safe means taking care not to share it with anyone else. In other words, the moment you have your card in sight, make sure no one else sees it and doesn’t know how to use it either – otherwise you risk leaving yourself open to fraud should someone else be able to access your information once they get their hands on it. Here’s how you can keep your credit card safe if you want to avoid falling victim to fraud in the first place:
Don’t leave your card in sight
This should be a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many people leave their cards within arm’s reach in the middle of the day – in their wallet, on the kitchen table, in the bedroom – you name it. When you leave your card within sight of yourself, you open yourself up to the possibility of having someone else pick it up while you’re not looking. If they are able to see it and figure out what it is, they can use it the same way you would. However, the best way to keep your card safe is to put it away until you need it and don’t leave it out when you don’t need it to be seen by others. This means putting your wallet away in a desk drawer or cupboard and keeping your card in a different part of your bag to avoid leaving it out when you’re not actually using it. If you need to take out your card, try zipping up your bag or putting it in your pocket so no one else can see it.
Keep your device locked at all times
One of the easiest ways to keep your card safe is to keep your device locked at all times. When you’re not using your device, keep it in a drawer, cupboard, or behind a security lock. This is particularly important if you regularly use your phone to pay for things or keep your banking information on it, as any would-be fraudsters can gain access to your information just by seeing it out of sight. While many people keep their devices unlocked, doing so comes with several risks. If someone else is able to see the device, they can simply pick it up and use it just as if they were the person holding it. While you can take steps to keep your device unlocked that don’t involve keeping your device in sight, such as setting a complex passcode or using a security lock, the best option is to keep your device locked at all times.
Use a password that’s hard to guess
A password that’s hard to guess is a password that’s hard for anyone else to crack, too. It sounds obvious, but many people think of passwords in terms of length – “123456” – when what really matters is that it’s a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that’s hard to guess. A password that’s easy enough to remember might be better than a password that’s totally secure, but too hard to remember for anyone else to crack. If you can’t remember your password, you might be able to remember something else that’s easy to crack – like a portion of your password – and pass off the fake login as the real deal.
Double-check any email you receive asking for your card information
Fraudsters often try to get people to hand over their card information by sending emails that look like they’re from your bank or card company. You might have received one of these emails and, since you don’t remember sending them, you might have written down the information they ask for in your search for where you wrote it down. To be safe, make sure you double-check any email you receive that asks you to enter your card information. If you don’t recognize the sender, you can also try flagging it as spam or opening it in a different tab so you aren’t distracted while you’re checking.
Report suspicious activity immediately
If you’re paying your bills online but aren’t able to view your statements, check your credit card transactions, or otherwise see the activity on your account, report any suspicious activity to your bank or credit card company immediately. By reporting suspicious activity, you’re letting your bank or card company know that something’s not right. This could be a case of mistaken identity or fraud, but in either case, your bank or card company will be able to contact the person who’s trying to access your account and stop them from spending money on something that belongs to someone else.
Credit cards can provide a convenient way to pay for things and provide some protection in case of an emergency. However, keeping your card safe means taking care to keep it out of sight whenever possible, and while you might not always be able to avoid doing so, locking your device when you aren’t using it is the best way to ensure your information remains safe. If you follow these tips, you can protect your credit cards from falling into the wrong hands. However, if you ever find yourself the victim of credit card fraud, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and get your credit score back on track.