How can I keep my credit card information safe?

Keeping your credit card information safe requires constant vigilance in your day-to-day use, and particularly in your digital lifestyle. Here are five tips you may not have heard before, and three you hear all the time that deserve repeating:

1. Did you know an underhanded waitperson or retail clerk could copy your account information on the card’s magnetic stripe with a small handheld device and then use it to make fraudulent transactions on your account? They could, and that’s why it is a good idea never to let your credit card out of your sight. The next time you pay at a restaurant table, think about walking over to the payment terminal to keep your credit card information safe. At gas stations avoid leaving your card inside while you pump outside.

2. Unsecured wireless networks, especially public hotspots, are vulnerable to eavesdropping or “evil twin” attacks, where you are fooled into using a hacker’s wireless network instead of the real public one. Only enter your credit card data (or log into your bank account) on a secure network.

3. Before you pay online, first, be sure you are buying from a reputable company. (See also, How do I know if I can trust a Web site?) Then look in the browser address bar for the “s” (secure) in https://… Click on the padlock to check that the site belongs to the company you think it does. Use an anti-phishing filter in your browser. Uncheck the “store my credit card for future purchases” option. And most important, never pay online from a PC that is not thoroughly protected with up-to-date anti-spyware and anti-virus software. Studies show 84% of phishing sites target credit card numbers and other personal financial information.

4. Request from your bank a credit card that supports a security feature for online purchases called MasterCard SecureCode or Verified by Visa. These cards give you added protection using a PIN code that you must enter to authorize online purchases. That way if someone steals your account information, thousands of participating online merchants would decline the fraudulent purchases. Better yet request from your bank or credit card company that they issue you an EMV-compliant chip and PIN card. (For more information, see What is the safest way to pay online?)

5. When traveling, note the card and customer service numbers. Keep them in a place other than your wallet or purse, so if you lose your cards you know whom to call to turn them off.

And the three you hear all the time and know you should do: monitor transaction activity; shred paper statements that show the account number; and frequently check your credit report.
For more details on these tips, click on these tags: credit card – internet security – online payment – https SSL – hotspots – to see other tips on