Guide to Personal Credit and Debit Card Security

Credit and debit cards are the most popular and commonly used way that most people pay for goods and services; but, with new technology also comes new risks for fraud, theft, and other crimes committed against the consumer.

Guide to Personal Credit and Debit Card Security

Credit and debit cards are vulnerable to fraud, theft and other crimes.

If you have a credit or debit card, there are some important things to keep in mind in order to make sure your information stays safe. The levels of security can vary between the two types of cards, as can the ways you can keep them safe. People should be diligent in trying to make sure their payments are secured as well as their information in order to protect their credit and good name.

Debit vs. Credit Cards

Debit vs. Credit Cards

Both debit and credit cards look just like a traditional credit card, and most debit cards carry the traditional Visa or MasterCard logo; but they each have a distinct difference when it comes to the source of money used. Credit cards are based on their name, credit, which means a financial institution issues the cardholder credit that must be repaid back to the financial issuer at a set interest rate.

A debit card uses money that is directly in the cardholder's bank account. Usually if you use a debit card, you have to enter a security PIN that is usually four to six digits long. With credit cards, you will just typically swipe it at the register and sign the receipt, but online a secure website should also ask for a CVN number, which is a three digit number found on the back of the card. That extra security measure ensures you actually have the card in hand, and is not being transacted by a "bot" or hacker.

The money you spend using a debit card to pay for something is immediately withdrawn from your bank account, and a credit card is just the money you've been allotted by the credit card company to be allowed to spend. Regardless of where the funds come from, a compromise with either type of card can be financially devastating.

Here are some helpful links to help you better understand and protect your credit and debit cards:

Tips to Protect Yourself

Here are some helpful tips that can help you keep your credit and debit cards secure:

  • Never give your PIN to anyone, and avoid writing it down and keeping it in your wallet.
  • Do not give anyone your account number over the phone. A legitimate company will ask for other pertinent information instead, such as security words.
  • Make sure all of your online access passwords are strong and secure. Change them frequently to avoid someone hacking into your online account.
  • Keep credit statements and receipts, and if you decide to discard them, use a shredder.
  • Do not carry extra cards you don't plan to use in your wallet with you. This applies particularly when traveling.
  • Cut all old credit and debit cards when they expire.
  • Do not lend your cards to others to use.
  • Make sure you check the total on all credit or debit card receipts before you sign them. Never sign a blank receipt without a grand total shown.
  • Do not store cards in your pocket when you are out and about; they can easily slip out or be taken when not looking.

Further Tips

Here are a few more tips and tricks that will assist you in securing your credit and debit cards.

If Your Card is Missing or Stolen

If you've misplaced your credit or debit card or you think it may have been stolen:

Step 1

Immediately contact either your bank or your credit card issuer and notify them of the development. They will cancel your current card and issue you a new one. Make sure you change all PIN numbers and online passwords immediately as well.

Step 2

You should also notify the card issuers of the date and amount of your last purchase. Keep a close eye on your account while waiting for your replacement card or cards to make sure that no unauthorized transactions take place. If they do, be sure to also notify the issuers of these as well as your bank.

Step 3

It is also a good idea to file a police report in case others have had the same problem recently in your area.

Refer to the following links for more suggestions on protecting your privacy and identity online.