Credit Card Security Advice

Which of the following is the biggest threat to your credit card security?

a) Shopping online with a credit card
b) Shopping in a real store with your credit card
c) Ordering something over the phone with your credit card

The answer may surprise you. It's b - shopping in a real store with a credit card. Despite all the controversy and publicity surrounding internet phishing and identity theft, shopping online is a relatively safe process. Credit card fraudsters are far more likely to get your credit card numbers and ID information by hacking into a bank or credit card company computer than they are to hack into an online store's server.

The truth is that there are some dangers to using credit cards in ANY situation - and there are ways to safeguard your information and security no matter where you shop with your credit card.

When shopping online?

ˇOnly shop reputable sites. If a shopping web site has been around for a while, it's a pretty good bet that they're legitimate.

ˇUse an online money transfer service rather than your usual credit card. You can fund an account with a service like Paypal via your credit card or bank account - but your information isn't freely available. When you pay via PayPal, the only information that the seller gets about you is your email address.

When shopping in a real store?

ˇKeep your eye on your credit card. Stores with the latest tech in credit card scanning won't ever even handle your card - you slide it in the scanner yourself and it never leaves your possession. In stores that aren't that hip yet, keep your eye on what's happening with your card, and ALWAYS take your credit card receipt. Until everyone is using the latest scanners and printers that only print out the last four digits of your credit card, discarded credit card receipts are the easiest way for thieves to get hold of your credit card numbers.

When shopping by phone?

ˇNever, ever, ever give your credit card numbers to someone who called you. No matter how good a deal sounds, insist on being given the time to confirm the identity and company of the person you're speaking with.

As you can see, for the most part, common sense is all it takes to keep your credit card information safe!

Joseph Kenny is the webmaster of the credit card comparison sites and also

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