The number of Americans having their credit cards stolen, compromised or hacked each year is staggeringly in the millions. While the new EMV (stands for Europay, MasterCard Visa, the major credit card companies behind the more secure cards) chips protect your cards in live, in-person transactions at a retail store or restaurant, the new cards are no match online or over the telephone.
Here are seven ways you can add protection to your credit and debit cards.
- Get a secure wallet or purse
The new chipped cards are come with RFID (radio frequency identification) and NFC (near field communication) technology for contactless payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay, bank mobile applications and others). Unfortunately, this leaves them prey to contactless pick pocketing. A thief uses a portable RFID card reader to transfer money from your credit card as a “payment” to a nearby accomplice.
Sure, you can keep your credit cards in an Altoids mints tin or wrap your cards in tin foil. A more conventional option is to buy a wallet, credit card sleeve/holder or purse that blocks automatic RFID transmissions. These are not expensive and give you some peace of mind when you’re on the town or out of the country.
- Set Payment Limits on Contactless Cards
If you use contactless cards frequently, contact the credit card company and limit the size of any purchase made with the cards. You can always call them back and raise the limit for a specific purchase. Alternatively, you could disable the contactless payment feature, although that defeats the whole idea somewhat.
- Set Up Purchase Notifications
If your financial institution or credit card company offers notifications for purchase transactions, get alerts sent to your cell phone or email. You’re notified immediately of a transaction. If it’s legit, no action required. If it’s fraud, contact the lender and inform them of the unauthorized transaction. They put a hold your card and credit the fraudulent transaction. You can also set up other monthly notifications to help you monitor your credit.
- Use Mobile (Contactless) Payments
Payment services such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Pay and others use your cell phone’s camera to scan, read and store the data on your credit cards. To use these services, hold your phone close to the payment entry device and complete the purchase. Mobile payments can keep your wallet slimmer by leaving the actual cards at home. Just make sure you have a strong password on your cell phone so you’re not vulnerable in that way.
- Strong, Secure Passwords
Speaking of passwords, make them strong and secure. Use combinations of upper and lower case alphanumeric and special characters (check – some apps and sites don’t allow special characters) to make them too hard to hassle with. Many online sites (Amazon is one) let you use a two-factor authentication (2FA) so you receive a separate access code on your cell phone or email account to complete a transaction.
- Stick with Secure, Reputable Online Retailers
When you’re making an online purchase, even from a company as large as Amazon, make it a habit to glance at the address bar. There should be a lock icon and the first letters should always be https://. This means that the site is locked, encrypted and your transaction is secure. If you don’t see https, do not enter your credit or debit card information. It could be a fake site set up to look like the real site and take your money without a single glance back.
- Keep Your Card Within Sight
More restaurants are equipping their servers with portable payment devices so your card doesn’t have to leave the table to be run. You can always accompany your server to the machine if their system is not portable. Always be on the lookout for skimming devices on do-it-yourself payment systems such as self-serve gas stations. Gas station pumps are particularly vulnerable to skimming devices. If the payment entry device looks odd to you, move to another pump or pay inside.
For more information about keeping your credit and debit cards safe, contact Mike Krause at Sales Sense Payments, 585-704-6453, firstname.lastname@example.org.