How to: Understand credit card safety guidelines


Email security & fraud
  • Messages sent by email are not secure and may be intercepted by outside parties. Do not use email or instant messenger to send communications that contain confidential information (such as credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, or any other personal information).
  • A credit card company will never send you an email asking for confidential information such as account numbers, passwords, PINs, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers.
  • Protect yourself from fraudulent emails claiming to be from a credit card company, bank or other popular Internet Web site. Delete unsolicited emails that ask for this type of personal information. If you suspect you've provided confidential information to a fraudulent site, contact the customer service number on the back of your card or from your account statement.
Card & PIN safety
  • Don't leave your credit cards in your car's glove compartment. An alarmingly high proportion of all credit card thefts are from car glove compartments.
  • When selecting a PIN, always avoid the obvious - your name, telephone number, or date of birth, or any combination.
  • Ensure that you get your card back after every purchase.
  • Always check sales vouchers for the correct purchase amount before you sign them, and keep copies of your vouchers and ATM receipts.
  • Always check your billing statement and verify the amounts of your purchases.
  • Make a comprehensive list of all your cards and their numbers and store it in a safe place.
  • Don't volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card, other than by displaying personal ID as requested by a merchant.
  • Don't lend your card to anybody. You are responsible for its use. Some credit card misuse can be traced directly to family and friends.
  • Never disclose your PIN to anyone. No one from a financial institution, the police, or a merchant should ask for your PIN. You are the only person who needs to know it.
Mail & phone safety

CAUTION: Mail and telephone solicitations bring many tempting offers, but not all are legitimate! Be especially careful about deals that sound too good to be true, and keep the following advice in mind:

  • Record the name, address, and phone number of the soliciting organization, and obtain names of other customers who can supply references.
  • Ask questions. The fewer questions the telemarketer can answer, the less likely that it is a legitimate business.
  • Notify the postal office immediately if you change your address.
  • If you are not receiving mail, call the postal office immediately. Some crooks are able to forge your signature and have your mail forwarded elsewhere for the purpose of obtaining information that will allow them to apply for credit in your name.
  • If you are told of a forwarding order placed on your mail without your knowledge, go to the postal office to check the signature and cancel the order. Ask the postal office to track down the forwarded mail; it can remain in the postal system for up to 14 days so may not yet have landed in the criminal's hands.
ATM security
  • Look around and observe your surroundings - if the machine is poorly lit, or is in a hidden area, use another ATM.
  • Have your card ready - avoid having to go through your wallet or purse to find your card.
  • Make sure that anyone waiting to use the ATM after you cannot see you entering your PIN or transaction amount.
  • Don't count your cash while standing at the ATM - put your cash, card, and receipt away immediately.
  • Cancel your transaction and leave immediately if you see anything suspicious. Confirm, as soon as possible, with your financial institution that the transaction was canceled.
  • If you are using an indoor ATM that requires your card to open the door, avoid letting anyone come in with you that you do not know.
  • Lock the car doors and roll up the other windows when you use a drive-through ATM.
  • Do not leave your keys or valuables in the car when using an ATM - and do not leave your car engine running.
  • Do not leave your receipt behind - take it with you. Compare your ATM receipts to your monthly statement. It is the best way to guard against fraud and it makes record-keeping easier for you.
  • If you lose your Visa card or your ATM card, contact the financial institution that issued your card immediately.