Your credit card is not only a piece of plastic that provides you with access to money, it also offers you with access to a world of privileges, discounts and promotions. Based on the way you use your credit card and the frequency at which you make payments, your credit score and credit history are calculated. Hence, it is important that you keep your card safe and make sure that your credit card details do not fall into wrong hands. Here are some tips for using your credit card safely.
If you are contacted by strangers through telephone or email, and ask for your card details claiming that they card for your credit card issuer, do not provide any information to them. The customer service team of your bank, responsible for contacting customers, already has all your data and therefore has no reason to call you and ask you to communicate the same to them. Anyone who contacts you asking for a credit card number or other information is then, most likely, a crook.
When you need to contact the customer service team, do not randomly call any number that you find on 3rd party websites thinking that you are calling your card issuer bank. Instead, obtain their right contact details from the back of your card or from their official website. If you call a wrong number and end up providing your card details to unauthorized individuals, you could be in trouble as the information could be misused by fraudsters. A little caution can go a long way in securing the safety of your account.
The International credit card issuing companies such as Visa and MasterCard have established systems of anti-fraud protection based on the 3D secure protocol and they are called Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode. You can activate these protocols and create a Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode password. Activating the anti-fraud protection feature guarantees greater protection for your online purchases, allowing you to prevent any fraudulent use of your card on the web and avoid unwanted charges on your account.
Even if you do not usually make purchases on the Internet, by subscribing to 3D Secure you will be able to guarantee the security of your card. If you avoid using such security and if your card number is stolen, it could be used for payments on the web without your knowledge.
The anti-fraud protection is a system that is available for free and makes it easy and safe to shop on websites: you just have to choose a password that you will use when paying with the data of your credit card. After entering the data requested by the merchant, you will see a pop-up: simply enter the password and the payment will be completed safely.
When you shop on the internet, use these precautions:
If you want to be immediately aware about the theft or loss of your card, or if you want to guarantee protection against fraud, subscribe to the SMS services offered by your card issuer bank. Such SMS services are available for free and allow you to be notified in real time about each and every transaction completed with your card. Thus, in case any merchant overcharges you or in case your lost or stolen card is used for a fraudulent transaction, you can come to know about the same at once can call customer service and immediately block the card, avoiding the fraudulent usage of your credit card.
The early warning of the theft or loss of your card helps in the prevention of the misuse of your card by third parties. When your card is stolen or lost, you might easily panic and forget the contact number of the customer service department of your bank. Hence, you should save on your cell phone the contact numbers of the Customer Service department of your credit card issuer.
Pay much attention to the proper use of e-mail: certain e-mails might be sent to you with the aim of stealing your personal and confidential data (the number of your credit card, password or other data and security codes). These fake e-mails, disguised to look like those from creditworthy (banks, credit card companies or well-known e-commerce companies) sources, induce recipients to provide - in good faith - their personal data, including the details of their Credit Card. Hence, you should verify the source of an email before replying to it.
Identifying fraudulent emails
A password that consists of only phrases or words is easy to guess and it is a password at risk.
So here are some suggestions for creating a secure and easy to remember password:
When you create your password, make sure that it is composed of the initials of a phrase that you can easily recall. It should be associated with a situation familiar only to you and should not be associated with your personal data. If possible, use combinations of alphanumeric characters (abcd1234 etc.).
Avoid using very common words or those that relate to your private or professional life (eg. names, social security number, date of birth, car license number, employee ID number etc.)
The PIN (Personal Identification Number) is a confidential code that should not be disclosed to third parties: try to memorize it, do not write it down (even in the phone book) and never keep the paper containing your credit card PIN in your wallet or purse. This way you will be protected against cash withdrawals by third parties, for which there is no refund, even if they occur as a result of loss, theft or counterfeiting of the card.
The transactions completed on Point of Sale terminals must be done in your presence. It is therefore not recommended that you give your card to the sales representative in order to avoid possible cloning. Your card should only be swiped in your presence so that it cannot be cloned without your knowledge. Also, when the merchants or their sales representative are swiping the card, you should not be distracted.
The self-service terminals which allow payment by credit card (fuel, parking) issue a receipt that shows the data of the card (number and expiration date). Hence, you should always retrieve them from the terminal and carry them with you for safekeeping. If they fall into the wrong hands, the data of your card can be acquired by someone who can then use the data for online purchases.
When you receive the card, sign it immediately in the space provided on the back, below the magnetic strip, using a ballpoint pen. This will allow the merchant to verify the signature on the card with that on the purchase receipt (when you sign it) and it will ensure that your card is not being used by unauthorized third parties.
Always verify that the amount shown on your sales receipt is the correct one and that it is shown in total. When you use your card in a restaurant, the tip amount is not shown on the receipt at times even though the amount is deducted from your card. Hence, you should make sure that the receipts show the full amount so that you will have a clear idea of the amount that you have paid. This will help you to avoid getting overcharged by the merchant.
You should keep the receipts so that you can check your spending and submit any requests for clarification within the period specified in your cardholder agreement (usually 60 days from receipt of the account statement). If you feel that you have been overcharged, you can then dispute the same with the merchant.
Remember that the safety of your card is primarily your responsibility and so you should use it wisely. Avoid transactions that can cause you to incur additional charges and might make it difficult to pay off the balance of your card. For example, if you use your card for online gambling, you will end up paying way more than the amount you charge on your card due to additional fees and interest charges and so you should avoid using your card for such purposes.
You are liable for all the cards linked to your card account, in which you are the primary cardholder. Remember that, in addition to being in charge of your credit card, you also bear the legal responsibility of the transactions carried out by holders of supplementary cards linked to your account. Hence, you should keep a track of their usage and make sure that they follow the terms and conditions given by the credit card issuer bank.
Protect the confidentiality of your operations at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Do not allow anyone to invade your space as you type your PIN. If someone gets too close while you are performing a task, politely ask them to move away and give you the space you need to complete the transaction. Try to always use your free hand to hide the numbers you are typing. Apart from that, you should also keep in mind the following when you use your card at an ATM.
The card must be inserted into the slot of the machine without any effort. Once the transaction is completed and the card is ejected by the machine, you should be able to grasp it easily with your fingers.
If you are suspicious, contact the staff of the Bank, the Police or, in the closing hours of the branches, call the customer service department of your bank and explain to them the situation; the customer service representative of the bank will advise you on what to do and eventually will help you in blocking your card if needed.
In case the ATM fails to return the card, be wary of strangers who are too eager to help you and immediately call customer care to get it blocked.
ATMs can be altered / tampered with in order to clone the cards. In order to protect your card from being cloned, you can follow some simple steps: