4 Ways to Protect your Credit Card Information

By: Brian Williams

4 Ways To Protect Your Credit Card Information
The credit card bill comes in the mail. You know what the charges are and what you plan to pay. Then, you open it and a nauseating feeling comes over you.

$2,120?

A 46-inch plasma television?

Scanning your living room, you can't spot any high-dollar, big-screen TV and you don't understand why it is listed on your credit card statement. This sick feeling is shared by many victims of identity theft.

Credit cards are a major source of identity theft. It is common for a thief to steal somebody's wallet or purse and begin charging up the pilfered debt cards. However, with the advent of the Internet marketplace, all a thief needs are those 16 numbers on the front of your plastic card to put you in deep credit card debt.

Safeguarding your credit card information is crucial to your financial stability. Here are ways to keep those important digits on your credit cards out of an identity thief's grubby hands.

Shred Credit Card Receipts and Statements

Don't leave any paper documentation with your credit card number around for long. After you have inspected receipts and statements, shred them. Whatever you do, don't put them in the trash unshredded or leave them in your car. Thieves glean credit information easily during car thefts and by rummaging through people's garbage.

Avoid Online Scams

Be very wary about giving your credit card number or Social Security number for online purchases. Shopping over the Internet offers convenience and peril. Some retailers pretend to be legitimate but just set up a Web site to get your financial information. Some of these unscrupulous operators use a mechanism known as phishing by sending out an e-mail asking you to update personal information. They then use the information to steal from you. Research any unfamiliar online outlets that request your information. You can also get virus protection software to weed out unwanted e-mails that may lead you to identity theft.

Look Over Your Shoulder
When giving out financial information or swiping your credit card at a retailer or ATM, make sure no one is eavesdropping. Sometimes you have to input your credit card number and personal identification number on a purchase at an offline retailer. Someone nearby can easily jot down the information without you knowing.

Watch Out For Missing Credit Card Statement

If you don't receive your credit card bill when it usually shows up, contact your credit card issuer immediately. Someone may have changed the billing address to divert your mail to get your information. A thief may have even swiped it from your mailbox. It is safer to receive and send your credit card bills through a U.S. Post Office box.

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