Credit card safety

Learn how to stay safe when using credit cards.

Instructions: Click each phrase to learn more.

Report loss or theft!

Report lost or stolen credit 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 list of the following information. Be sure to store the list in a safe place. Never carry it with you.
Credit card information

  • Credit card name
  • Financial institution
  • Account number (Don’t write your account numbers if you can’t keep this in a secure place.)
  • 24-hour customer service #

Sign your card

Sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.

A young woman looking at her credit card and reviewing her credit card bill

Treat cards like cash

Protect your cards as if they were cash — never let them out of your possession or control. 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 or card numbers — credit, debit, or ATM — to anyone. You are responsible for their use. Don’t let your credit cards be used by others, even family or friends. Cut up and toss out old and canceled cards. If you are waiting to receive a new credit or debit card, check your mailbox often to prevent someone from stealing it.

Identity theft is still on the rise. Carry only the credit cards that you plan to use, and leave the others in a secure place (not in your glove compartment). Don’t provide an opportunity for a thief.

When shopping

A restaurant check is being paid with a credit card.
When shopping, make sure that you get your card back after every purchase. Check that sales vouchers are for the correct purchase amount before you sign them. Always keep copies of your sales vouchers and credit card receipts. After your purchase has cleared or you’ve paid off the purchase, be sure to shred receipts and/or statements that include your account number and personal information. Don’t volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card, other than by displaying personal identification as requested by a merchant. Also, never allow a salesperson to write down your credit card number if their system is down. Make the purchase later when your card can be used appropriately.

Monitor your credit card accounts

To avoid fraud, monitor your credit card accounts online — including when you’re away traveling. Some financial institutions offer tools and services to help you monitor and manage your accounts, such as email or text alerts, automatic payments, and online reports that track your spending into budget categories.

Avoid magnets

Keep your cards away from things with magnets, which can erase the information stored on the card.

Note: Watch out! Criminals can easily steal your account information by running a debit, credit, or ATM card through a small hand-held device called a “skimmer.”

Too much credit card debt? See the lesson Dealing with debt for helpful tips.

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