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Protecting Credit Cards

Credit and debit cards are very similar other than that credit cards are protected by a federal law that limits your liability for unauthorized transactions. Therefore, it's generally best to use credit cards given a choice. That said, here are some tips for protecting both:

Put CHECK ID or SEE ID in the signature slot

Granted most people won't check this anyway, but some might. A thief can also make purchases online or at most gas stations without a signature, but there's one very important advantage here. If someone manages to get your credit card by theft or finding it (fell out of your pants or whatever), but they don't have anything else of yours, they can't forge your signature (which can make it harder to claim that the purchase wasn't yours).

Pay at the register

It only takes a few seconds for a restaurant employee to skim your card with their own personal reader or make a carbon copy impression to use later. If possible, walk the card to a register to pay.

Cross out your card number on receipts

Every time you are handed a receipt, make sure that your full card number is not listed for anyone to see. If it is, scratch it out so hard that you can't even see the impression of the numbers anymore (I usually go right through the paper).

If the store/restaurant employee complains, just remind them that printing the credit card number on a merchant copy is against federal law:

According to the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), the electronically printed credit and debit card receipts you give your customers must shorten — or truncate — the account information. You may include no more than the last five digits of the card number, and you must delete the card’s expiration date.

Don't let online companies store your data when possible

The simple fact is that companies lose their customer data just a little too easily. What I do know is they can't lose what they don't have, so when shopping online always look for any options in the checkout process to not store your card/information for future use. Most online stores don't offer this yet, but a few do so be on the lookout for it.

Use Virtual Cards

If your bank has this feature, use virtual credit cards. These are one-time use numbers attached to your real credit card, but using a number that's only good under certain restrictions (like a limited number of transactions, specific time span, one-time use at only one store, etc.). This is perfect for doing business with someone while preventing them from storing your credit card number.

REFUSE to use contactless pay systems

The last thing you should have to worry about is your credit card being accessed remotely without your knowledge, but the wireless chips used in some cards make that possible. For example, the EZ-Pass system uses an RFID chip that can be read and easily copied from hundreds of feet away. Once copied, someone can go through the tolls while leaving you with the bill.

If a system doesn't require any physical contact, just proximity, then you're probably using RFID and you're at risk.

It's impossible to fully prevent credit card fraud, but there are several things you can do to help.
Social security numbers have become the gateway to all kinds of identity abuses so the less people you give it to, the better.
Your data is as valuable as money so protect it like money!
What do you do once your data is already out there? This.
How to Steal Identities - Why It's So Easy
Credit Freeze
Data Defense
Credit Monitoring
Id Theft Insurance
The Identity Theft Victim's Mini-Guide to Recovery
The Geek Privacy Principle
Nothing to Hide
Data Abuse
RFID - Radio Frequency IDentification
Privacy Alias/Persona
Data Defense
Online Addiction
The Consequences of Posting Online
Photo Safety
Tricks and Scams
Account Hijacking
Trusting Companies
Bad Passwords
Password Tips and Tricks
Password Protection
Password Mugging
Computer Security
E-mail Safety
Kids and Computers
Shopping Online
All About Warranties

Protecting Credit Cards

Credit cards are often used fraudulently so do what you can to prevent it.

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Protecting Social Security Numbers

Social security numbers have become the gateway to all kinds of identity abuses so the less people you give it to, the better.

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Being a Data Scrooge

Learn to protect your personal information the way Scrooge did his money.

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Reputation Management

Just because there are things out there about you that are out of your control and are unflattering or worse, doesn't mean you're powerless.

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