Is Your Personal Credit Card Information Safe?Wednesday, December 7, 2011 11:33
The truth is that just about everyone has a credit card. Whether you use your credit card for monthly purchases and pay it off each and every month or only hold on to your card for emergencies—chances are that there's at least one piece of plastic in your wallet. But did you know that it's far too easy for your personal credit card information to get leaked out and used? This is just one of the things that can lead to identify theft, fraud, and other frustrating and harmful crimes that can ruin your credit and cause tons in legal fees.
However, there are ways to keep your credit card information safe and secure so that greedy thieves will have a difficult time tapping into your private information. Following are five ways to help to protect your information and discourage any sort of identify theft that, unfortunately, happens all the time:
- Shred sensitive documents instead of just tossing them in the trash. It's true—such a simple step can actually go a long way to protecting your identity. There are many paper shredders that aren't all that expensive and are actually quite convenience and small, so don't feel like you have to invest in a heavy-duty shredder just for the sake of security.
- Avoid using your social security number when possible. Your social security number should only be used when it's absolutely necessary—otherwise, use an alternate customer identifier.
- Never leave your cards unattended—even at work. It's all too easy for someone to pinch that credit card out of your wallet or out of your desk drawer. Keep your credit cards with you at all times.
- Keep on top of your financial statements. When that credit card statement comes in the mail, open and read it immediately to make sure there aren't any charges that you didn't authorize. Don't get a bill one month? Call the credit card company immediately and let me know that you didn't receive your bill.
- Make your credit card login password as complicated as possible—and don't write it down! This is one thing that everyone should do. Many times, people choose simple passwords so that they'll be sure to remember them. Unfortunately, this makes it far too easy for hackers and other identity thieves to use computer programs to crack your password. When you use a combination of capital letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers, you're helping to make your information more secure.
- Never, ever give your credit card information or other high-security personal information such as your social security number over the phone unless you're dealing with a trusted company and you initiated the phone call.
These are just five ways that you can help to protect your personal information. In this day and age, it has become all too simple for cons to steal your information and use it for their own purchases and benefits. By understanding what you can do to better protect yourself—and following through—you'll be helping to keep your information as safe and secure as possible.
Katrina Robinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina. She writes about a wide variety of topics including health, fashion, finances, and credit cards.
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