Protect Your Credit Card From Theft

By Carol / Published on Sunday, 18 Dec 2016 07:40 AM

Guarding your credit card against theft is a first defense against identity theft, yet many people leave their cards where a thief can easily have access.

Do you do any of these things:
– Leave your credit card in a desk drawer at home?
– Leave your credit card in a “handy” spot – like the kitchen cupboard or the top of your dresser?
– Leave your credit card in your purse or wallet in your car?
– Leave your credit card in a gym locker?
– Leave your purse in a grocery cart while you go into a cooler?
– Leave your credit card in your purse on a restaurant chair while you get up to visit the salad bar?
– Leave your credit card in your pocket or purse when you’re in a night club and get up to dance?
– Leave your wallet laying on the checkout counter while you run back to get a missed item?

If you do any of those things, you’re inviting theft.

You may think your cards are perfectly safe at home – and they probably are, unless you’re burglarized. If that happens, finding your card is like finding a gold mine – although your thief will have to act quickly if they’ve made a mess of your home.

Those other “loss spots” can be even more dangerous. Because you may not use your card every day, you might not notice the loss immediately. That gives your thief time to use the card extensively, as well as use it as a guide to stealing your identity.

One other danger spot that most people don’t even think about is restaurants. Most of the time, when you use your card, you either scan it yourself or the clerk does it while you’re standing right there, watching. But when you go to a restaurant, the practice is usually different.

First, the wait person brings your check – if it’s an upscale establishment, it will be in a tasteful fold-over binder. You then place your card in the binder and that person takes it away to process. And that’s where the danger lies.

It takes only seconds to photograph both sides – thus the thief has your numbers, your expiration date, the code on the back, and a copy of your signature. And you have no clue that anything has been done until you begin getting bills with strange charges.

It wouldn’t even occur to the majority of restaurant personnel to do such a thing, but all it takes is one to ruin your day. Or rather, a lot of your days. Because you don’t know about the theft, you won’t report it immediately, so you’ll be in the position of proving that a lot of fraudulent charges weren’t yours.
That’s easy enough if they leave town, but if they happen to live in your neighborhood, you’ve got a bigger problem.

What can you do? Wait to pay the bill until you’re leaving the restaurant. Then take it to the counter and pay it in person. A little inconvenient, yes, but worth the safety.