Here’s a quick checklist for you to do all you can to keep your card secure.
Start with the following to protect your credit card:
✓ Sign the signature panel on the back of your card.
✓ Memorize your PIN.
✓ Make a list of all your cards, including account numbers, expiration dates, issuing financial institution and contact phone numbers. Be sure to store this list in a safe place and update it as you have changes, like new or replacement cards.
Identity Theft Checklist
✓ Check your paper statements immediately upon receipt—or better yet, monitor your account more frequently online. (You can also sign up for services such as IdentitySecure, which monitor your credit bureau activity and alert you of any suspicious activity, among other features.)
✓ Keep financial information secure, preventing access even from family members, friends and neighbors.
✓ If possible, shred financial documents before throwing them away. Better yet, elect to receive eStatements or eBilling to eliminate the paper.
✓ Order and review your credit report at least once a year. You can access your report for free once a year from each of the three reporting bureaus at annualcreditreport.com.
Online Security Checklist
✓ Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer, and then keep all software up-to-date.
✓ Choose a password that’s unique and secret, and at least 6-8 characters long. Combine letters and numbers for added security.
✓ After shopping online using a public computer, always log-out and close your browser before you walk away.
✓ Never respond to an electronic message (email, text or voice) that asks for your personal details, even if it looks like it’s from a reliable source. When in doubt, call the institution back yourself using a number you know is legitimate and ask if you were contacted.
✓ Turn off pop-ups in your browser.
✓ You can tell if the site is secure by looking for the lock icon on the lower right hand corner of your browser. You can also look for the HTTPS in the URL. The “S” means the information you are submitting is secure and encrypted.
Traveling Security Checklist
Before you go:
✓ Contact your card-issuing institution and let them know you’ll be traveling so your transactions won’t be considered suspicious.
✓ Check the expiration dates on your cards to make sure they’re not due to expire during your trip.
✓ Check the amount of credit available to you during the trip as well as your account balance if you plan on using your debit card.
✓ Make sure you know what your daily spend limit is on your credit account (and debit if you’ll be using it).
✓ Make a record of credit card account numbers and telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards, and leave it in a safe place at home.
✓ Use your card to purchase your tickets. This will ensure that you have a receipt as proof of purchase in case you lose your tickets or if the trip is cancelled.
During your trip:
✓ Never leave cards unattended or in plain view…at work, in the hotel room, at the pool, the tennis courts, in a vehicle, etc.
✓ Use the safe or security box provided by the hotel for your valuables.
✓ Always keep your sales receipts as proof of purchase.
✓ Review and print out a currency exchange rate chart.
When you get home:
✓ Carefully check your receipts against your monthly statements.
ATM Security Checklist
✓ Be mindful of your surroundings—if the machine is poorly lit or in a secluded area, use another ATM.
✓ Lock car doors and roll up windows when using drive-through ATMs.
✓ Don’t leave keys or valuables in the car when using a walk-up ATM.
✓ Have your card ready to avoid having to go through your purse or wallet.
✓ Make sure no one nearby can view your PIN or transaction amount.
✓ Don’t count cash while standing at an ATM; put your cash, card, and receipt away immediately.
✓ After completing an ATM transaction, remember to take your card and transaction record. Don’t leave your receipt behind.
✓ If your card becomes stuck inside an ATM machine, don’t accept help from strangers. Rather, call the institution that owns the ATM to see if they can retrieve and return your card. If you can’t get your card back, contact your issuing institution to cancel your current card and order a replacement.