Holiday Tips For Credit Card Safety

Holiday Tips For Credit Card Safety – Almost one-third of users experience credit card fraud and in 2010 close to 11 million adults experienced identity theft, with 43 percent of reported theft linked to credit card fraud. As of 2010, estimated showed that 11.1 million adults are victims of identity theft each year.

Those are staggering numbers and are the reason that credit card safety is an ongoing necessity for all of us. During holiday season even greater vigilance is necessary for many obvious reasons. Most security actions fall into the common sense group, but with busy lives we often end up tasking without adding a good dose of forethought.

Following are my top ten list of easy, fast habits anyone can build to support credit/debit card security.

Never write down your PIN number and make sure to cover the keypad when entering on any machine. For added secure, do not use a PIN number tied to personally identifiable information. A quick Google search with your name may shock you about your personal data floating around on the web.

Sign the back of your card upon receiving it and destroy old cards immediately. Scissor through the name line and account number. Scrap away the bar code with the scissor blade. Even better, use a home shredder to completely destroy cards.

Review receipts, both ATM and store, to make sure the figures are accurate.

Destroy receipts as soon as possible. I tear ATM receipts into small bits immediately upon verification. Credit receipts are matched to statements online and then shredded.

The only time to give card information over the phone is when you’ve made the call and know the vendor is reputable. Short of this, don’t use the phone for dispensing card information.

Avoid public computers and unsecured networks for all financial transactions, including account balance checks. Online purchases are fast, convenient and a major part of our shopping experiences. However, use only a private-secured connection. Look for the HTTPS//: and closed padlock icon in the address bar.

Never leave a card unattended. It belongs in your hand, wallet or purse. A teller should not take your card to a machine. If so, request to go with the clerk or have the machine brought to you. Unattended includes a card left in the car, hotel room or any place someone can easily access.

Check for skimmers when using ATMs, self-checkout lanes, and swipe pads. A stand-alone swipe pad attached by cable is a red flag for a skimmer.

The new RFID chip cards bring added security using a radio transmitter to send client data, but also need special caution by the user. RFID is easily susceptible to someone with a hand-held reader standing close enough to steal card information. Reportedly, some people have been able to steal card data with a cell phone app. Take added care by using Tyvek sleeves or RFID wallets that can block radio signals

Carry only a few cards or better yet one. People tend to have multiple cards, but should carry only those used – be selective.

Increased card use provides greater chance for credit fraud leading to a disappointing way to start the new year. Be on your guard through the holidays and use these tips when you use a credit card.

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Quickly

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Quickly – Christmas and holiday spending can be brutal on any household budget, considering most families significantly overspend during the holiday season. It is estimated that the average American household has more than $8000 in credit card debt. After all the fun and festivities are over, you should take control of your household budget and expenses. Unfortunately, one of the biggest yet most controllable expenses for most individuals or households is their revolving debt. The payments may not only handcuff your spending ability, but they can limit your financial options to purchase a car or house. In order to escape from the trap of credit card debt, you will need to determine the best way to pay down and eliminate your debt. The following is a list of suggestions on how to pay down your debt and improve your financial situation.

• Collect Your Information – Gather your last pay stub and all your latest credit card statements. Write down the name of the creditor, balance, interest rate, due date, and the minimum payment for each card. Then add up all the minimum payments for each account. Based on your disposable income after you pay your mortgage, utilities, and other necessities; do you have enough money left over each month to make the minimum credit card payments? Also, write down how much interest you are paying monthly and annually. This is the amount of money that is being wasted.

• Make a Plan – Once you have a basic budget that includes your income and debts, you can then decide if you want to consolidate your debt, start to reduce your debt by paying off the cards with the highest interest rates first, or start by paying off the cards with the lowest balances first. Choose a plan you can stick to, no one knows your financial situation better than you do.

• Consolidate Your Debt – Turn your revolving debt into a term loan. If you close your credit cards after consolidating them, you will no longer have the ability to add to your debt. Also, part of your payments will be reducing the principal balance of your debt, unlike minimum credit card payments that are usually just paying the interest on the outstanding balance. Therefore, you will be paying down your debt and the consolidation loan should be paid off within a certain number of years. If you are financially capable, it would benefit you to make more than the minimum payment, thereby reducing the principal balance on the debt faster. If you decide to consolidate your credit card debt, take the time to thoroughly compare your options and shop for an interest rate that is lower than your credit card interest rates. Also, set up an automatic payment arrangement for your consolidation loan. This will prevent you from falling behind in the payment and potentially facing penalties and/or a higher interest rate.

• Debt Settlement – This is the program that is an alternative to bankruptcy. When you go through your finances, if you find out that your monthly payments exceed your financial ability, you will need to seek alternative options, such as: working with a financial institution to consolidation your credit, discuss your options with a bankruptcy attorney, or talk to the credit card companies directly to reduce the principal balances owed on your debt.

• Stop Charging – Once you make your plan to pay off your debt, you will need to be committed to stop charging on your credit cards and creating new debt until your finances are under control. Your plan will not work unless you reduce your spending.

Taking control of your finances may create short-term hardships and limit your ability to purchase items over the next few years, such as: a new car, new house, or a vacation. Nevertheless, it is imperative that you control your spending, so you can improve your finances and get out of debt. Once your debt is paid off, you will have a significant increase in disposable income. In addition, you should have higher credit scores and a lower debt to income ratio; therefore in the future, you should qualify for preferential rates on auto and home loans.

7 Tips to Avoid Credit Card Fraud

7 Tips to Avoid Credit Card Fraud – Your credit card offers you access to a world of possibilities. It can not only help you in making payments, but it can also help you to improve your credit score. If you make the payments on time and use your card wisely, you can improve your credit score by leaps and bounds. However, if the card is misused due to negligence or fraud, your credit history and score can be severely affected. Hence, it is important that you avoid being a victim of credit card fraud.

Here are 7 tips that will help you to avoid credit card fraud:

1. Do not disclose your credit card info – You should never disclose your card number, security code, expiry date and other details of your card to anyone. These details can be used to make fraudulent transactions and so you need to make sure that no one has access to them. Even if you get calls from people claiming to work for your bank, do not disclose your card info to them.

2. Keep your card safe – It is very important that you keep your cards safe and away from the reach of other people. Place your cards in a bag or wallet close to your body so that it cannot be easily snatched away. If you use a purse, make sure that it is properly zipped so that the cards do not fall off from your purse. Also, instead of carrying all your debit and credit cards with you all the time only carry those that you need.

3. Be cautious when using your card online – When you use your card to shop online, be careful and make sure that you only use it on websites that are legitimate and offer SSL encryption security for online payments. If the site does not provide adequate security, your card information can be stolen and the same can be used for identity theft or for making fraudulent transactions with your card.

4. Keep a track of your account – Opt for mobile and email alerts to keep a track of your credit card account all the time. In case of any unauthorized usage of your card you can report it to the bank immediately. You can also access your account online through electronic banking and make sure that you are aware of all the transactions made with your card.

5. Keep your PIN safe – When you swipe your card at merchant outlets to make payments, you will need to provide a 4 or 6 digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) to authorize the transaction. Make sure that you do not share your PIN with anyone or write it on any piece of paper as it can be stolen and misused.

6. Shred your statements and other documents – Shred your credit card statements and all other documents that have your card information on them. Your account information can be accessed online and all other details will be available on your card. Even if you forget your password, user ID or PIN you can get them reset by contacting the customer support team of your bank. Hence, it is important that you shred all possible documents that include information about your card.

7. Inform the bank if your card is lost or stolen – In case your card is lost or stolen, call the card issuing bank immediately and inform them about the same. The customer support representative of your bank will then guide to you to get the card blocked so any unauthorized usage of your card can be avoided. The representative will also inform you about the steps you need to follow to get a new card.

Apart from the above, you should also ensure that the supplementary cardholders use their cards wisely and are aware of the procedures they need to follow to safeguard your account against fraud.

What Types of Credit Card Fraud Should You Beware of?

What Types of Credit Card Fraud Should You Beware of? – When you have your purse snatched or your pocket picked, you could lose your credit card along with cash and other important stuff. It is a simple matter for the thief to swipe your card at outlets to do some shopping or use it online to make purchases. Although not very common at present, the technique of getting card imprints from carbon copies found in the trash also lead to incidences of credit card theft.

Being extra careful when you are in crowded places like malls and taking immediate action to report the theft and block the card once you discover the loss are the most effective ways to limit the damage you face in these situations.

When your card information is stolen

Are you in the habit of paying by card when you eat out and do you tend to hand it over to your waiter or waitress when its bill paying time? You could be making a big mistake here.

There are innumerable incidents happening everyday where the waiter/waitress takes the credit card, swipes it through the register as they should and then also makes use of the opportunity to swipe the card through a compact skimming device. This device stores the credit card information which is later used to fund the thief’s purchases right until you figure out something is wrong.

Since it is impossible for you to tell whether or not a waiter or store clerk is honest, the best alternative is for you to ‘not trust strangers’ especially with your credit card. Why not simply go along with them, swipe your card through the register yourself or keep a watchful eye while they are doing it?

When the card reader is faked at your favorite store

This one requires some acting skills, a lot of creativity and guts on part of the thieves and it has a huge impact on every single credit card using customer of the store where the card reader is replaced with a fake one. These types of identity theft involve more than one thief typically, since the card reader at the counter is replaced with a different one while the other thief distracts the sales clerk.

A while later, a similar distraction is staged so that the card reader can be retrieved and the original one put back in place. The store may not even get a fraud alert until complaints from patrons start coming in.

When your credit card data falls victim to malware

Using your credit card at home is not always as safe as you think either especially if you tend to visit sites that are not serious about security features. Such sites could contain malware that is downloaded onto your computer, making all of your data accessible to unauthorized people.

Malware may also be planted onto public computers and when you share information with these machines, you are exposed to risk. One of the most useful pieces of data that can be stolen from your computer is your credit card information, which is then used by the thief to commit fraud.

Keeping your computer updated with powerful anti- virus software and verifying that the sites you visit are secure ones is a good way to curb your risk of identity theft.