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9 practical ways to stay safe with your credit card

We give you the lowdown on the latest ways to stay safe with your credit card both online and on the high street

03 February 2017 3 min read

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Credit cards play a vital role in helping us manage our money. Our trusty plastic gives us a quick and easy way to pay, financial flexibility and purchasing power whenever we need it.

So it’s no wonder then that crooks have become increasingly devious as they look for new ways to steal money from credit card customers. You may think card crime isn’t that common, but don’t underestimate how real this problem has become.

According to Financial Fraud Action UK there were almost 1.5 million cases of card fraud in 2015 totalling £568 million (up by 18% on the year before). Protecting your cards means using your common sense, being vigilant and using the right tools to keep your details safe.

We want to help you avoid becoming another fraud statistic so we’ve come up with a list of 9 practical steps to keep you safe whether you’re using your card at home, online or on the high street.

1. Don’t get caught by the cash machine con

Always take care when using an ATM – if the cash machine doesn’t look right or appears that it may have been tampered with just walk away.

Be particularly vigilant for skimming devices which are sometimes positioned where you put your card in – crooks use these to gather information from your card to make counterfeit or cloned copies.

2. PINs are not for sharing

Never share your card PIN, even with family members – every additional person who knows your PIN is a potential security risk. If you’ve shared your 4 digit number in the past, it’s time to plug that security gap, and you should consider changing your PIN.

Another vital habit is to always make sure that you shield your PIN from prying eyes when entering it in store or at an ATM.

3. Lost your credit card? Report it without delay

If your card is lost or stolen be sure to report it to your credit card provider immediately. The problem is most people wouldn’t know where to ring, so why not type the contact number in your phone today? It’ll make life easier if it happens to you.

4. Don’t be a soft touch for email tricksters

Never log on to your online credit card account or online banking by clicking on a link from an email or text message. Similarly, watch out for fake emails (known as phishing) designed to get hold of your credit card information - if ever you’re unsure if an email is real, bin it.

Consider registering your cards with Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code – both schemes are free and give you an extra layer of security when you shop online.

5. Is your PC security up to scratch?

Installing anti-virus software on your laptop or PC is a ‘must do’ task if you want to stay away from cyber criminals. There are many products to choose from although some banks recommend software called Trusteer Rapport which is absolutely free.

6. Only buy online if the website is secure

Only pay for goods with your card online if the website is secure – you’ll see a padlock symbol and/or https at the start of the web address if it’s ok – the ‘s’ on the end of the http indicates that the site is secure.

7. Give cold calls the cold shoulder

Beware of cold calls – your card provider, bank or the police will never ask you for your four digit PIN or the three digit CSV code from the back of your card – the golden rule is to never give out any card details unless you have initiated the phone call to a number that you have dialled.

8. Never let your card out of your sight

Contactless technology may be quick and convenient but it is more open to potential fraud.

If you’re paying contactless in a café or restaurant, for example, don’t let the card out of your sight – the staff should always bring the card terminal to your table.

9. Always check your monthly card statement and credit report

Watch out for suspicious transactions or activity on your credit file. A quick two step check each month will pick up any possible fraudulent activity – firstly look at all the entries on your credit card statement the day it arrives and secondly take a look at your credit report to ensure that there have been no searches or applications that don’t belong to you.

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