Most people ask, “How can I protect credit cards from being scanned by thieves?” Protecting credit cards, and other financial instruments and documents, is essential to preventing identity theft. Keeping credit cards out of the hands of thieves is only one of the ways to protect thieves from accessing and using them. The cardholder may use the credit card online or by phone without presenting the actual card for processing.
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Identity theft is a reason that credit cardholders should keep non-card documents, e.g. birth certificates and bank account statements, in a safe deposit box or other secure place. Pre-approved credit card offers sent by mail are another way that thieves access others’ credit lines. Shred any credit card offers that create easy access to your credit by thieves.
What circumstances assist thieves in scanning my credit card?
Access to a single credit card number can help a credit card thief to steal your identity, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In 2009, approximately 10 million people suffered identity theft related to credit cards, according to Javelin Strategy and Research.
Protecting credit cards and credit card receipts is a common sense way to prevent credit card theft and fraud. Don’t leave an open wallet or credit card on a desk, or make a phone purchase with a credit card in a public place. Don’t use a public computer to purchase anything online with your credit card.
If an automatic teller machine (ATM) looks suspicious, avoid using it. For example, most ATM machines have a special card receptacle or reader. An extension of this compact port at the ATM should alert you to the possible presence of a credit card “skimmer.” The skimmer copies the credit card number and makes it available to thieves. Notify the card issuer and the ATM owner immediately about suspected credit card skimming.
How can I protect credit cards from scanning when I travel?
Credit card thieves seem to like travelers. The traveler may be in an unfamiliar place in the U.S., or outside of the country. If she uses a credit card in a local retail store or restaurant, the server or owner of the establishment may attempt to scan a second receipt. The traveler may not notice the second swipe.
The stolen amount may be small: thieves taking a small amount from many cardholders may avoid scrutiny. A small charge may also pave the way to making a charge for a larger amount later.
Read all credit card statements regularly. When traveling outside of the country or in an unfamiliar U.S. location, check the statement via secure online connection or by calling the credit card issuer’s customer service lines every day if possible. Notify the card issuer about any suspicious charges. If foreign exchange rates seem confusing, ask for assistance from the card issuer. Don’t delay in reporting any suspicious charges on a credit card account!
How can I protect my credit cards from being scanned?
Keep the activation sticker on at least one or two cards in your wallet. According to Gary Schwartz in The Impulse Economy, thieves may avoid using a credit card with the activation sticker still attached.
Don’t give a thief the opportunity to wipe off your signature with ease. Sign cards immediately after activating them with an indelible marker, such as a Sharpie pen.
What are other ways I can protect my credit card number from falling into the hands of thieves?
When possible, use a secure Internet connection to access your account so someone doesn’t steal your credit card information. Credit card statements, in your mailbox, home, or office, create easy access to information about your financial resources. Make sure to shred any unnecessary credit card receipts.
Never give your credit card number of anyone in an email. When given the choice, do not allow an online retailer to store your credit card for future use.
In the checkout line at a retail store, watch what happens to your credit card. Watch the person holding your card, and don’t allow the salesperson to take the credit card out of your sight. If a cashier turns his back, or takes too long to process a transaction, ask questions. When receiving your card back from another person, check the card before replacing it in your wallet. Swapping your card for another is another way that thieves may steal your credit line. Speak to the store manager immediately and report any concerns to the credit card issuer.
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