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Credit Card Safety - Keep Your Accounts Safe
Credit cards give you the freedom to buy now and pay later. Some credit cards can be used in ways similar to an interest-free loan. There are many different types of credit cards that may include rewards or special promotions. What makes them safer than cash is their ability to provide you with fraud protection.
Having a credit card may be beneficial, but it is important to remember that fraudsters are always on the hunt for credit card numbers, passwords or PINs. Please stay alert and keep your personal information secure.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your credit card accounts safe:
1. Keep your credit card secure.
- Sign the back of a new card when you receive it.
- Log into your online card account, turn on suspicious activity alerts, and take the time to create a strong and unique password and PIN for the account.
- Do not use the same or similar password for your bank account and store websites. Use a different, unique password for each different credit card account.
- Do not choose a PIN number that you use for other things or that is personal to you, such as your birthday or digits from your Social Security number.
- Take advantage of multi-factor authentication (MFA) when it is offered.
- Do not leave your card unattended or let others use your card.
2. Keep your account number private.
- Do not let anyone see your credit card when you are out in public. Be selective when giving your account number over the phone; only offer it when you initiate the call and are talking to a bank or retailer you trust.
- Be suspicious of messages you receive by email, text, and phone. Be suspicious of social media messages asking you for personal information or asking you to click a suspicious link.
- Register for paperless statements and make payments online to remove your sensitive information from the postal system.
- Shred any documents with sensitive personal information before you trash them.
3. Keep your information current.
- Notify your bank if you move. This will ensure that your statements and other information will follow you to your new address.
- Sign up for alerts with your bank. Make sure your bank has your current phone number and email address on file. This helps financial institutions easily reach you if there is fraud or suspicious activity on your accounts.
- Make sure you also understand how your bank sends alerts. You may be able to choose how to be notified – text, email, or phone.
4. Be careful with your receipts.
- Check your receipts against your account to quickly spot transactions that may be fraudulent.
- Shred duplicate or old receipts instead of simply tossing them in the trash. Securely file the receipts you wish to keep.
5. Secure your devices and networks.
- Allowing your browser to store your credit card number could make you a fraud victim. To prevent this, consider turning off the Autofill function in each browser that you use.
- In addition, think about using a digital wallet, a payment system kept on your smartphone. A digital wallet makes it possible to make purchases using your credit cards. Digital wallets are safer than carrying a credit card because they encrypt your personal information.
- If you use a digital wallet, you can use a passcode, fingerprint, or facial recognition to unlock your smartphone.
- If your smartphone doesn’t come with a “find my” feature to protect your information, you should download an app to assist you in finding your phone if you lose it.
6. Protect yourself online.
Consider taking these credit card-specific measures as best practices for online and cell phone safety:
- Know your retailer. When shopping online, use secure sites only (web addresses that begin with “https”). Confirm that the web address includes the company’s correct name. Share your personal information only if you know how it will be used. Type out your credit card number for each transaction. Never allow your credit card number to be stored on an online shopping site.
- Add a layer of protection. Consider using an online payment system or mobile payment service like PayPal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay to keep your credit card number safe so that if a retailer is hacked, your account number will not be leaked.
- Do NOT use public Wi-Fi to shop, conduct financial transactions, or even check your accounts. On a public network, your information can be easily accessed by scammers.
7. Check your account often.
- Review your recent account activity frequently via your bank’s app, online, or by phone.
- Most card issuers will also allow you to set up email or text alerts. You can tailor these alerts to come in whenever you use your card or simply to identify unusual activity.
- If you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft in the past, consider signing up with a credit-monitoring service.
8. Notify your credit card company about disputed charges immediately.
If you find unauthorized charges, do the following:
- Contact the card company immediately to file a dispute.
- Follow up with a written notice of dispute.
- If you have registered your card online, you can submit a dispute using your online account.
- For more information on disputing credit card charges, read “Credit Cards – Did I Charge That?”
9. Report lost cards and suspected fraud right away.
- If you lose your credit card, contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately. Once your bank or credit card issuer has been notified, your card can be blocked and a new one will be sent.
- According to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), your liability for unauthorized use of your credit card tops out at $50 and many issuers waive that as long as you notify them promptly.
To report fraud or if you have a general consumer complaint, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team.
Consumer Protection Team
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Online complaint form