protect your personal information

During the last five years, one in every three Americans has had their personal information stolen from them.

As scary as this statistic is, it seems to be on the rise.

The problem is that credit cards are an integral part of our lives these days. It’s not possible to stop using them altogether. And no one should feel they have to stop.

Instead, it’s better to take the time to educate yourself on protection when using a credit card machine. It is possible to have the convenience of your credit card while remaining secure the whole time.

Keep reading to learn more about how to keep your personal information protected.

1. Inspect for Signs of Tampering

Before inserting your card into any credit card machine, give it a good inspection. Don’t be afraid to inspect it for anything that seems to be out of place or different than normal.

When information thieves install things such as card skimmers or pinhole cameras, they often leave evidence behind of the act. By spotting this evidence, it is a big clue to the fact that something isn’t quite right.

Take card machines at gas stations for example. If a thief has installed a card skimmer into the gas station reader, the card reader often seems loose. If you give it a pull, it will pop right out.

This is because these skimmers are often meant for temporary use. Thieves will use double-sided tape to secure them so that they can remove them at a later time.

If you ever have a feeling that the machine has been tampered with, don’t use it.

Go speak to someone in charge of the establishment and find a different machine to use instead. It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your personal information.

2. Don’t Let Your Card Out of Your Sight

Whenever you hand over your credit card to a cashier for any kind of reason, make certain you always keep an eye on it. Don’t look away from the card until you’ve placed back into your wallet or purse.

Don’t wait to put your card back in its proper place when you’re done using the credit card machine. It should be the first thing you do after you’ve finished paying.

This minimizes any chance of misplacing it. It also helps to reduce the chance of any kind of identity thief getting a hold of that card.

Having visual control of your credit card can help cut the risk of your card being misused.

3. Use Both Hands When Entering Information

It’s a universal standard to have a raised guard around the screen and keypad of any credit card machine. This kind of guard helps to some extent, but it is a good idea to take some extra precautions yourself.

Instead of only using one hand when entering your PIN number, for example, use both. One hand can push the keys while your other hand is covering up everything that you’re doing.

This keeps any unwanted eyes from seeing your information. It also can help to stop pinhole cameras from getting a good look at what you’ve entered.

This is a simple step that adds a lot of security during every credit card transaction.

4. Be Aware of Radio Frequency ID Chips

Radio Frequency ID chips introduced a new way for customers to pay with their cards. Instead of inserting the card into a credit card machine, you would only have to swipe it past. This sped up the process of paying at the end of your shopping trip.

It also introduced a new way for thieves to get their hands on your personal information.

These days, a lot of banks are beginning to phase out these RFID chips. Still, even the best credit cards can have flaws. If you have an RFID chipped card, it may be a good idea to try and get one without it.

Otherwise, a great way that you can keep your card secure is by wrapping it in aluminum foil. It’s an easy solution that blocks out any scanners that can read the card.

5. Keep Your PIN Number Secure

It may seem like a good idea to write down your PIN number and bring it with you. It’s tempting to do, especially if you’ve changed it or have received a new card recently.

This is not a safe way to remind yourself of your PIN number. It’s far too easy to lose that slip of paper and far too dangerous to have it written on the card itself.

Instead, make up a mnemonic device to help you remember the number. Or call a trusted friend to remind you what your number may be. This is a much safer way to get the reminder you need without having that information lost or stolen.

6. Sign Your Credit Card

It’s important to sign the back of your card as soon as it arrives. Some people feel hesitant to put their signature on their credit card. Often it is thought that you’re giving identity thieves another piece of information.

This is not the case. Instead, leaving the signature area blank makes you more vulnerable.

Your signature validates the card. Without it, you are violating your terms and conditions with the bank. If something happens to your card, due to theft or otherwise, having no signature on the card will end up hurting you in the long run.

7. Check Your Account Often

Checking your bank account is a must when it comes to personal information security.

This is one of the quickest ways to know whether someone has stolen information from you. If there is something appearing on your account that you know isn’t supposed to be there, you need to get into contact with your bank.

Try to check your bank statements weekly, to touch base with what is going on in your account.

It’s also important to keep up-to-date on your account whenever you’ve used a credit card machine while traveling abroad.

With a Little Caution, You Can Use a Credit Card Machine Safely

There are many reports out there warning users of theft and fraud. This makes it somewhat intimidating to use a credit card machine. No one wants to be the victim of theft.

However, if you keep these different tips in mind, you lessen your chance of becoming a victim. Thieves will find it more difficult to get a hold of your information.

You can feel secure in knowing that you’re doing everything you can to keep your personal information safe.

Want to learn more about credit card security? Contact us at any time.