Tips for Safer Use of your Credit and Debit Cards

John A Sinnott Solicitors, online shopping

We all hear stories of credit and debit card fraud.  Using cash as a payment method in shops and restaurants is fast on the decrease and this, along with a surge in online shopping, has led to card payment being the prevalent payment method.

Here are some tips to help you avoid being the victim of credit or debit card fraud:

  • Never send credit or debit card details by email, even to someone you know.
  • If you receive an email asking for your card details, delete it.  Never respond to such emails, even if they seem to be official emails from your bank.
  • If someone calls and claims that they are from your bank, never give them card numbers over the phone.  Call your bank back and offer to provide the number.  You can then quickly tell if it’s really needed.
  • Be vigilant at ATM’s.  There have been instances of ‘card skimming’ at ATM’s, whereby an almost indiscernible device has been fitted to the machine that extracts all the information from the magnetic strip on your card.  Another card can then be made with this information and used fraudulently.
  • Don’t enter your credit card number into an unsecured website. Before entering your credit card online, make sure the address uses “https” rather than “http.” Also, make sure that your browser displays the secure lock, usually in the bottom right corner, or towards the top in some browsers.
  • As soon as you receive your credit card, sign the back of it. If you lose a card that doesn’t have your signature, someone else may sign it and use that card as you.
  • Credit card companies get your name and contact details from various sources, such as airlines, communications companies, and many other places. From this, they may send you unsolicited application forms. Destroy these application forms immediately.
  • Never write your PIN on the credit/debit card, or keep it with your credit card. If your credit card is lost and someone else finds it with your PIN, they can withdraw cash using your credit card.
  • If possible, keep your credit card away from your wallet or purse.
  • Before giving a credit card number to merchant over the phone, make sure you can trust them.
  • Store your credit card statements safely. When they are no longer needed, shred them.
  • If you change your address, inform your bank immediately.
  • Check your credit card and bank account statements every time you receive them, and make sure there are no unauthorized charges.
  • If your credit or debit card is lost or stolen, inform the bank immediately.
  • Keep only the number of credit cards you really need. Don’t carry too many credit cards at one time.
  • Whenever possible, use your credit card for online shopping.  Most fraudulent charges on credit cards can easily be disputed, but it would be very difficult to dispute them with a debit card, as the money is automatically deducted from your bank account.