Card safety tips

Here are some security tips for using credit, debit, and ATM cards safely:

  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately to the company that issued you the card.
  • To help you respond quickly in case your cards or ID are lost or stolen, make a chart like this one. Be sure to store the list in a safe place. Never carry it with you.

  • Credit card name.

    Financial institution.

    Account number.

    customer service #.

  • Sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.
  • Protect your cards as if they were cash — never let them out of your possession or control.
  • Do not include your card number in an email.
  • Do not give out your card number over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Be sure that you get your card back after every purchase.
  • Don’t leave your credit cards in your car’s glove compartment. A high percentage of credit card thefts are from car glove compartments.
  • Don’t lend your cards — credit, debit, or ATM — to anyone. You are responsible for their use. Don’t let your credit cards be used by others, even family and friends.
  • Choose a PIN that is easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. Don’t use any numbers or words that appear in your wallet (name, birth date, phone number, etc).
  • Never tell anyone your PIN. No one from a financial institution, the police, or a merchant should ask for your PIN. You are the only person who needs to know it.
  • Don’t volunteer any personal information when you use your cards, other than by displaying personal identification as requested by a merchant.
  • Never write down your personal identification number (PIN) — memorize it. Don’t write down your account number and PIN and carry it with you. If your wallet or purse is stolen, someone else could have access to your money.
  • When typing in your pin, cover the keypad so others can’t see.
  • When selecting a PIN, avoid picking a number that is easy for others to guess — for example, your name, telephone number, date of birth, or any simple combination of these.
  • Think about your personal safety when using an ATM. Because most ATMs give out cash and many accept deposits, it makes sense to be alert and aware of your surroundings no matter where or when you use an ATM. When you’re by yourself, avoid using an ATM in out-of-the-way or deserted areas. Use ATMs located inside banks or supermarkets where other people are around. Use ATMs in well-lit, public areas.
  • If it looks like someone has tampered with the ATM equipment, don’t use it. (This could mean that a criminal has attached a “skimmer” to the ATM to steal your financial information.) If a suspicious person offers to help you use the ATM, refuse and leave.
  • Put your money and ATM card away before you leave the ATM. Always avoid showing your cash. Always verify that the amount you withdrew or deposited matches the amount printed on your receipt.
  • Always make sure that sales vouchers are for the correct purchase amount before you sign them.
  • Always keep copies of your sales vouchers, credit card, and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) receipts.
  • Always check your billing statement to make sure the purchase amounts are correct and to ensure there are no suspicious charges. Contact your service provider immediately if you see a charge you don’t recognize.
  • Always put disputes regarding your billing statements in writing immediately upon becoming aware of the disputed item; otherwise, you may be held legally responsible for the entire amount of the disputed item. Many credit card issuers have specific instructions for notifying them of a billing error dispute. Read your credit card agreement and billing statements carefully for information regarding dispute notification requirements. You may also contact your credit card issuer to ask about their dispute notification requirements.
  • Shred or destroy your ATM receipts before you throw them away.
  • Keep your cards away from magnets; these can erase the information stored on your card.
  • If you receive a replacement card, destroy your old card. Destroy cards for cancelled accounts.
  • Shop with merchants you know and trust. Make sure internet purchases are secured with encryption to protect your account information. Look for “secure transaction” symbols.