Do You Know What Security Features Your Credit Card Has?

By: Joseph Kenny

Everyday there is some new headline in the newspaper or on the news about identify theft, with many of acts committed against credit card users. As a consequence, card companies are endeavoring to keep a step ahead of these thieves by providing the best credit card security features possible for their customers. Card users do not want to fear credit card theft. They want to be able to make purchases without worrying that their information and finances will be compromised. One of the best ways to allay those fears is to be informed about your own credit card's security features.

First, it is important to understand the purposes of most security features. These technological and informational safeguards are put in place to provide protection for your personal information as well as provide a way to minimize the overall damage done to your finances and credit rating if someone happens to get their hands on the card and make unauthorized purchases.

Of all the credit card security features being developed there are four primary ones getting the most attention by the media and by consumer advocacy groups. Here are all four in brief:

Zero Liability Policies - Most credit card companies offer some form of zero liability policy. This feature has actually become an essential part of a card's security, forming the foundation for other measures. Zero liability policies go into action when a cardholder discovers that unauthorized card purchases have been made with their lost or stolen card. The policy provides compensation to the cardholder so that they will not be held responsible financially for the fraudulent activities. Coverage will vary from company to company, but it is basically the same concept wherever you go.

Temporary Purchase Numbers - One of the more recent additions to credit card security is the temporary purchase number. This feature is used in the place of your actual card number to protect it from those who would steal it. As the name states, these numbers are temporary and may be used for single purchases only. Once it is used, you will be given another alternative or fake card number to use when making certain types of purchase such as those on the web.

Photo Security - Photo security is slower to catch on with many card companies, but the trends are beginning to shift the other direction. Certainly, having a photo of the cardholder on the credit card is an obvious deterrent for a thief who has stolen a credit card and tries to use it in a public setting such as at the checkout counter of a retail store or in a restaurant.

Identity Theft Insurance - Identity theft insurance is type of insurance policy that is offered by a credit card company as an extra security option. Any coverage included is supposed to deal with all the financial losses and legal fees associated with identity theft or credit card fraud claims. Those with identity theft insurance can expect receive coverage of legal fees, wages lost while pursuing a claim, and other fees related to the resolution of a dispute.

You will want to investigate and see what your card company's security features are and see if they have any others not mentioned here and evaluate whether they are worth the extra cost (if any) for adding to any existing coverage.

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