Ways to Outwit Credit Card Thieves

by John Stevenson on July 17, 2011

In ancient and medieval literature, it is said that evil will not come unless you invite it in. This is portrayed in very literal terms, with vampires and other evil creatures coming to people’s doors (in disguise, of course), but waiting to be invited in. Coleridge’s Christabelle is an example of this. Translated in modern terms, you will not fall victim to credit card thieves unless you let them take advantage of you. Sometimes people who have been convicted of financial crimes claim (off the record, naturally) that what makes a crime a crime is something committed against someone’s will. In that case, their victims willingly put their credit cards in their hands, so they did not really commit a crime. The point is this: the best way to outwit a credit card thief is to keep your card from him.   

A lot of people are afraid to shop over the Internet because they think it is not safe to give out their credit card number. Smart people know, however, that it is much safer to shop online than to charge dinner to your credit card. Any waiter could be tempted to write down your number and use it any way he wanted to later. In fact, studies have shown that fraudulent purchases made by cell phones are much more frequent than online credit card fraud is.

The easiest and most obvious safety measure you can take is never to let your credit card out of your sight. For example, it would be a good idea to charge dinner and lunch to debit cards. If you must use a credit card, use one with a PIN code. Don’t give your card to just anyone.

Do not give out your credit card number over the phone unless you are sure it is to a legitimate company. Do not trust anybody who calls and asks you to give them your credit card number under the pretext of needing to verify information. Know that reputable companies will not request clients’ account information over the phone.

If you have stable security settings and a good antivirus program on your computer, your system will tell you every time you have accessed a site that is not secure. Do not provide your credit card information on such sites. Get a better antivirus program if you have to. Do not hang on to credit card applications – make sure they go where they belong, which is in the trash. Do not answer e-mails that ask for your credit card info and do not go to sites where you are asked to verify credit card information. Avoid using computers in public areas when you give your card details.

One of the dumbest things people do is write their PINs on their cards. This is convenient when you are in the situation where you need to make a withdrawal and have forgotten it, like in emergency situations – you panic and the magic four digits leave your mind. You’re assuming that you will be holding on to your card for ever and ever, it will not be stolen, and nobody else will ever know that PIN.

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