How to protect your credit card
As plastic replaces cash, it’s important to remember that a few small safety precautions go a very long way. Whether you’re shopping online or using your card at the gas station, you’ll want to use your head and keep your finances secure.
Online safety and preventative tips
Sites which communicate using HTTPS are encrypting your information for all communication, which makes them far more secure for any and all purposes.
You’ll be able to tell whether a site is secured with the HTTPS looking at the address bar on your browser. The site URL will begin with https:// instead of http://.
Most browsers will also indicate this added security in some way, with a lock symbol, etc.
Never use your credit card on public Wi-Fi
The nature of public Wi-Fi makes it relatively easy for your information to be stolen, especially if the host for the Wi-Fi is compromised in some way.
Some enterprising identity thieves will even configure their own public Wi-Fi hotspots, often in areas where you would expect to find a legitimate public Wi-Fi source, which they can then exploit to full effect.
Use reputable companies
Putting aside the question of illegitimate businesses stealing your credit card information outright, businesses with amateurish web security can be rife with exploitable errors which hackers can use to steal your credit card.
Ideally, most small businesses will opt to receive payment through secure, reputable intermediates, so you don’t have to wonder about the quality of security.
Avoid foreign websites
Unless you’re intimately familiar with the businesses or it’s widely known brand, be especially alert to dealing with any foreign website.
This goes double or triple for businesses from unfamiliar countries; many disreputable sites will operate out of countries where you’ll have no recourse to identify theft.
Research the company before giving your credit card number
If you absolutely must shop at a foreign site you’ve not heard of before, take the time to research thoroughly before you make your purchase. It shouldn’t take much more than a Google search.
Offline safety and preventative tips
Beware of skimmers
If you notice something unusual about the card reader, trust your instincts.
Card skimmers are small portable devices which attach to legitimate machines and steal the information inputted into them.
If you’re at a gas station, for example, you can compare your pump’s card reader to others. You should also avoid using your PIN at unfamiliar ATMs, to avoid skimmer cameras or direct observation.
Keep credit card secure
At the simplest level of credit card security, you should stay alert to the physical security of your credit card.
Simply stealing it and walking away is still on one of the easiest and most common ways to abuse another person’s credit card; many locations require no confirmation to run a credit card.
Keep your card where it would be difficult for someone to sneak them away without you noticing; it may mean giving up the convenience of easy, speedy access, but you’ll be a lot safer.
If you have an unsecured RFID-enabled credit card, it can be skimmed remotely by an RFID reader to steal all the pertinent information.
Either upgrade to a card equipped with additional security functions, or utilize a RFID-blocking wallet to protect yourself against this wireless identity theft.