With holiday shopping about to begin (or already started for some of you early birds!), it’s important to know what you can do to protect your debit/credit card information. While no one can be 100% protected from all types of fraud, there are steps you can take to be less at risk.
Most of the precautions you can take don’t require any extra expenses or time. It’s really about turning basic tasks into habit.
1. Check Transactions Regularly
Online banking makes monitoring your accounts easy. Make a point to log in every day and see where your money is going. If you see anything suspicious, contact your financial institution immediately. Many times criminals will make a few small transactions (a few dollars or even cents) to ensure your account is active before making a larger transaction.
2. Sign up for Text/Email Alerts
If a large transaction does occur, you can be alerted immediately through email or text message. This is a free service in online banking, so it can’t hurt to set it up!
3. Swipe and Sign
When you’re at the register, choose the credit option instead of entering your PIN number. You have more protection when you use your debit card as credit. For example, MasterCard offers Zero Liability Protection.
Besides added protection, MasterCard also offers extended warranties and other perks.
4. Safeguard Your Personal Information
Think before providing sensitive information like your Social Security number, birthdate, address or anything else you wouldn’t want to be public information. If you get an email or phone call asking you to share your bank account or any personal information, don’t just blindly give it away. It would be smarter to hang up, call your financial institution or whichever service provider is calling, and find out from them if they are the ones contacting you for this information. Chances are these places already have all that on file.
You also need to be careful what you share on social media. Hide your birthday, address and when you’ll be away from your home!
5. Look for Secure Locations
Free WiFi in public locations is helpful, but not always safe. You should wait to do things like log into your bank account or go shopping until you’re in a secure location.
6. Be Alert when Using ATMs
Look for signs of tampering on every ATM machine you use. Criminals can put devices on these machines to capture your card information, and they’re hard to spot.
Following these basic tips can help give you peace of mind – you’ll know you’re doing the best you can to keep your information safe!