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CREDIT CARDS

Best Security Practices for Credit Cardholders

What you'll learn: How to manage credit cards to protect finances and identity

EXPECTED READ TIME: 5 MINUTES

You may have already experienced that moment when you lost, or thought you lost, a credit card. You may have even noticed an unexpected transaction on your credit card statement. The right security practices can save you from having your credit card information compromised.

Here are some important dos and don’ts to put you on the road to best practices for credit card security.

Do Choose a Credit Card with Zero-Liability Protection

Make sure your card has a zero-liability policy that ensures you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges. Most major financial institutions and credit card companies offer this policy. But make sure to read the policy information carefully and keep your account in good standing.

If you do suspect credit card fraud, file a claim and a police report as soon as possible. Following good security practices is important for maintaining your card's zero-liability status.

Don't (In General) Store Your Credit Card Information Online

Retailers, utilities, and other businesses may offer to store your credit card information with them. You often have the option to save your card information on a merchant's website after making a purchase. Doing so means saving your information to their database.

However, even websites that have strong security measures in place can present too much of a risk. Criminals may still gain access to the database to steal credit card information and use it fraudulently.

While it's more convenient to store your card information with online businesses, it's safer to manually enter the information. One exception may be setting up automated payments for internet and phone services.

If you store your card information on file, use a card with zero-liability protection and ensure the merchant has security measures in place.

Offline (or "on-ground") businesses may also allow you to store your credit card information with them. This is particularly true if you need to make regular payments, such as for ongoing medical treatments or classes. This practice is becoming more and more infrequent, however, in the digital age.

Since anyone with keys to the filing system can access a hard file, storing your credit card information this way is less safe than a database. Therefore, it's best to avoid storing your information in physical files with offline merchants.

Do Use a Secure Digital Wallet

Credit card companies, like Visa®, are offering secure digital wallets that they encourage cardholders to use. These not only make online payments easier but also make them more secure.

You enter your card information into the digital wallet one time, and then use the wallet on any site that accepts it. Because you bypass entering your account number and merchant passwords, you can save time and eliminate the possibility of a hacker or hacking program capturing your information from your keystrokes.

Don't Use Autofill and Card Information Saved in Your Browser

Capturing keystrokes is not the only way for hackers to get ahold of your information. They can also gain access to this through phishing sites. If you allow your credit card information to be saved in your browser after you enter it, and have autofill turned on, the form fields can be automatically filled when you start to type in the information at a later date. If you land on a phishing site, it may have hidden elements that trick the autofill function into adding private data that you've not approved of on the site, but which is saved in your browser.

Additionally, if your phone is lost or stolen, the thief could use your autofill data to purchase goods or access your accounts.

Do Monitor Your Credit Card Account Regularly

One of the best practices to avoid a financial loss is to monitor your account activity regularly. Read each account statement every month, and monitor transactions in between statements. If you see a transaction you didn't make, contact your credit card's financial institution immediately.

What You Should Always Do

And, finally, a practice that applies to cash, cards, and checks. Make sure you know where they are at all times and don't carry them out of your home unless you're going to use them.

Your financial security is important. If you take the appropriate steps to secure your credit cards, you'll set yourself up for better identity theft protection in the long run.

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