Consumer Protection: Tips for Card Care
Holiday shopping season is in full swing. As you use that plastic—credit and debit—during the holidays be sure to protect yourself from scams and identity theft. Here are a few tips:
- When you use your card be aware of your surroundings and check to see if anyone nearby is using a cell phone. Hide your card under your hand or at least turn the card over–this can prevent someone from taking a picture of the card and your card number.
- Try not to let your card out of your sight. Skimmers use sophisticated equipment to steal your information—-name, address, telephone number, credit limit, PIN, etc.—for future nefarious purposes. If you use the card at a restaurant or other place where the card leaves your sight you should carefully review the receipt you are given and it may not be a bad idea to monitor your card account within 24 hours to ensure no phantom or unusual charges appear on your account.
- Do not provide credit card information—card number and ID number(s) on back of card—over the telephone to anyone who calls you.
- Check your credit card statements carefully for any unusual charges. And make use of online account access—from a secure computer, of course—to check your card account more frequently if you are generating a lot of card activity.
- Never sign a card receipt with blanks. When you sign a receipt, draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
- Do not leave your credit cards in your vehicle. (BONUS hint: do not leave gifts and purchases in your vehicle….they attract the wrong type of attention.)
- When a card is handed to you by a merchant or employee be sure to check and make sure it is your card.
- When destroying mail or documents with your card number be sure to shred, rip, or otherwise tear up the number. And when cutting up cards always cut directly through all the digits of the card number.
- Carry as few cards as possible.
- Only use your credit card on a secured website. The indicator of a secure website is a small lock in the lower right corner of the page, or the status bar for the page. If the lock doesn’t appear there, then the site is not secure.
If you find you are a victim of unauthorized card use, theft, or fraud contact your company immediately. Generally, victims are liable for only $50.00 of the unauthorized charges. This limit applies to credit cards as well as ATM and debit cards. In the case of ATM and debit cards, however, you must be extra vigilant as two unique rules apply: (1) you could be liable for up to $500.00 if you fail to report the card’s disappearance within two business days of discovering it is missing. (2) you could be held liable for all charges if you fail to report the card theft within 60 days of the mailing of an account statement showing unauthorized charges.
And remember: often the best gifts are those that do not require a purchase or wrapping paper. Spend wisely and enjoy the holiday season. All the best to you and yours.