Protecting Your Credit Cards

I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone about protecting their credit cards. I recently had two debit cards that where stolen and used in another state. I caught the problem quickly and the bank handled the problem without any issues; but some are not so lucky. So first, let’s go over how someone gets access to your credit card.

Credit cards can be stolen a variety of ways, but the most common way is to use your card on an unsafe website. This begs the question, “What is an unsafe website?” I would not recommend using your credit card on a website that is not tied to a physical business with an easily seen address and pictures of the building and employees. If someone has invested in their business, property, and employees, they have something to lose. Stealing your credit card is not worth the loss of what they have built over the years. Someone that runs a small website out of their home selling items for lower prices because they have no overhead has nothing to lose by stealing your credit card; therefore I always recommend paying a little more when online shopping and don’t take the risk. Another scenario in which it would be easy for someone to obtain your credit card information is at a restaurant, or a similar place where your card is taken from you for a period of time. The best way to avoid this common misfortune would be to pay with cash and receive a receipt back. It is very easy for someone to swipe your card info when they walk away from your table. ATMs and gas pumps can also pose dangerous potential scams; the most commonly known is what is called a ‘skimmer’. Before inserting your card, pull up or down on the slot where your card is inserted, if this piece comes off, you can be sure that you have just witnessed a ‘skimming’ technique.

So what happens when your credit card is actually stolen? The thief takes your stolen information and puts it with other stolen cards to sell in bulk on the internet. They usually don’t get much per card because they never use them to make sure they are good. The first person that buys them usually makes small purchases to make sure they are good working cards then reprints your credit card on new plastic and then sells them to people on the street. They get more money for them this way because there is a physical card and they know it is good. The good thing to remember here is watch for small charges that are not legitimate and report them if you see them. Just because it is small does not mean that it is not a big deal. It is usually the prelude to someone running out the credit limit on your card.

Here are a few small steps to take that can help reduce your risk of credit theft:

  • Don’t let your card leave your sight
  • Only use your card at established businesses with a physical location and employees
  • Make sure to pull on credit card readers at ATMs and gas stations to check for skimmers
  • Use cash at restaurants

As a final note, the new credit cards with electronic chips definitely make duplicating your card more difficult but it does not stop it altogether. These cards can still be stolen online just as easily as the old card. As always if there is every any questions we can answer feel free to email us at .

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