Credit card protected by a lock.

Protect Your Credit Cards

You hear about it all the time. Someone has there credit card number stolen and a thief charges up an untold amount of charges. While it is true that most credit cards come with zero liability, having your credit cad number stolen is still a major hassle. If you want to avoid the headaches, we have some tips for you.

Setup Account Alerts

Your credit card companies don’t want your number stolen any more than you do, which is why they give you a number of tools to stop it in its track. One of those tools is account alerts.

It might seem intrusive, but sign up for account alerts and get notified whenever there is any transaction on your credit card account. You will have to deal with alerts for legitimate transactions, but the small headache is worth the extra security.

With account alerts in place, if a thief gets your credit card and makes a charge, you will get a text or email. You can then take action and notify the credit card company that the charge was not legitimate. Stopping a thief from completely charging up your account will allow you to recover much quicker from credit card fraud.

Lock Your Card

If you have a credit card that is rarely used, lock it between uses. A locked or frozen card can not be used even if the credit card number is stolen.

The catch with a credit card lock or freeze is that all companies work a little differently. Typically, new transactions will be blocked, but transactions made prior to the lock and reoccurring subscription payments will still go through.

There are many benefits to using your credit card lock that go beyond just preventing credit card theft. It can be used to protect you in the case of a lost or misplaced card, it can be used to control access to occasional users by locking their individual cards and you can use it to control your own impulse spending.

Erase Your Stored Numbers

The less your credit card number is stored, the safer it is. Why would you want to risk having your card number scored on an online store database when you hear about breaches all of the time. The next hack could give a thief your number and these hacks are not always reported quickly. That means a thief could have your card number long enough to use it or sell it.

Another big benefit to not storing your card is that it greatly reduces impulse buys. The reason that companies want you to store your credit card information in the first place is to enable one click purchases. One click purchasing takes away any time that you might have to reconsider a purchase and it can cost you a great deal of money in wasted spending.

Check Your Accounts Daily

The best way to protect your credit cards is to stop a thief as soon as they gain access to your account number. The problem is that fraud is not always easy for automated systems to immediately detect, but you can.

Check your credit card accounts on a daily basis and look for charges that you did not make. The first step that a credit card thief makes is often to do a test charge, an authorization that will fall off in a few days. Unless you check your accounts every day, you might miss it.

You might think that doing a daily credit card check is a hassle, but it is very easy. Simply set up a browser folder with all of your credit card websites and save your passwords. Then, it takes just a minute or two every day to review your accounts. Cheap and easy protection.

Use Free Credit Monitoring

Credit monitoring is a great service that will alert you of any change to your credit profile. It used to cost hundreds of dollars a year, but now most credit card companies offer it as a free perk with your membership.

The problem with credit monitoring however is that it may not alert you to a compromised credit card number. It is much more useful in notifying you about identity theft since it will alert you to any change on your credit report such as a change of address or new account in your name.

Credit monitoring may alert you to some credit card changes however, such as a credit card that has been maxed out or been charged over its limit. For the cost of credit monitoring, free, it should be a part of your overall credit protection plan.

Take Advantage Of Zero Liability

Nearly every credit card company offers zero liability, but there may be some catches.

The biggest catch is time. You generally have 60 days to notify a company about an error or fraudulent charge on your credit card account. Many companies will still honor disputes after this time period but they are not legally obligated to do so.

To take advantage of your credit cards zero liability, the minimum that you should do is check your statements every month. Make sure that you go line by line and verify each purchase, because fraud is often easy to miss.

The End Game In Protecting Your Accounts

As you can see by now, protecting your credit card numbers is mostly about catching thieves quickly. There really is very little that you can do to keep your credit card numbers out of the hands of criminals, since most stolen cards are from activities like skimming or large account breaches. So, pay attention to your accounts and look out for the signs of a compromised number. Your vigilance can limit the amount of money stolen and help you get back to normal if the worst were to happen.

Posted by
James Car

James Car is a finance, loan and budget expert based in the United States. After attending Brookhaven college, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He now enjoys writing articles that help people save and make the most of their money.