Many of us fear that one day we’ll become a victim of identity theft or fraud—that we’ll log into our bank account and see no money there or go to use our credit card only to have the purchase declined.
These possibilities are frightening because it happens every minute of every day. But this doesn’t mean you’re helpless or that you have to sit back and wait for it to happen. There are many steps you can take to better protect your credit cards, both online and offline. Here are a few to get you started.
You only need one.
If you find yourself shopping at Target, and you plan on using your Target credit card, then there’s no reason to have five other credit cards on you. Take the card you intend to use and one additional card for emergency purposes. Leave the rest of your cards at home. This way, if you lose your wallet, you won’t lose every single source of money you have.
Secure websites and connections only.
Online shopping is home to a significant percentage of identity theft. One reason this is happening is because people don’t shop on secured websites or over a secure connection. So, if you’re going to buy online, look for the “https” or lock icon on the left side of the address bar. Next, try to do as much (if not all) of your online shopping at home on a secure, password-protected connection.
Log out every time.
Don’t remain logged into your bank account in your browser or on a mobile application. Log out completely every time. If someone steals or hacks your device and you’re still logged into your account, then it won’t take very long or very much effort for this person to gain unrestricted access to your bank account. This also means you should never let the application or browser remember your login credentials for you.
Use strong passwords.
It won’t do very much good to log out of your account if you’re securing your account with a weak password. Every account you have should always be secured with solid login credentials, but this especially holds true for the accounts that have access to financial information. Keep your passwords random, shoot for longer phrases, and play around with spellings, capitalizations, and numbers.
Don’t feel guilty for being naturally suspicious of everyone. Suspicion is your greatest ally. When you’re walking around public places, keep your wallet close to your body and concealed. And when you’re swiping your cards at the register, make sure no one can see the numbers on the card or the pin code you punch in. It doesn’t matter if there’s a 10-year-old boy behind you or an elderly grandma. Just do it.
Shoot for credit, not debit.
If your financial information does fall into the wrong hands at some point, it’s better for you if it’s a credit card, as opposed to the cards directly linked to your bank account. Credit companies typically provide a more reasonable timeline for disputing charges. And think of it this way: Would you rather have someone max out a credit card or drain your bank account?Published on 16th February 2016 by Shawn Maggio