The Christmas season is upon us, and with it comes the mad rush to find just the right gift for all those special people on your list. While the convenience of credit and debit cards has made dashing through the malls much easier, it goes without saying that you need to guard you bank cards like cash. To ensure all stays merry and bright this holiday, here are the top nine TBT bank card safety tips to carry with you as you shop:
- Keep a written record of your card number(s) separate from your wallet. Photocopying the front and back of all of your debit and credit cards will help if you lose your wallet. Keep that card information in a secure place at all times, to easily access should you ever need to notify your bank of a loss.
- Make sure you know your bank or credit card provider’s Lost/Stolen phone numbers. Keep this valuable information nearby in the unfortunate event you need to contact your card provider in an emergency. You will also want to make note of the hours of operation of your bank’s customer service and fraud departments.
- Do not give out your card number over the phone or online to an unknown vendor or merchant. It is a good idea to do a little research on companies if you have never done business with them before. Do not give out your card information until you can confirm that a particular business is legitimate.
- When shopping online make sure you only visit websites that are secure – look for indicators such as a closed padlock or an unbroken key on your screen. Additionally, when you come to a site’s order page where you are asked to type in your credit card number, there should be an "s" after "http" in the URL bar at the top of the page. If you are a VISA cardholder, you may also want to consider shopping only at sites verified by VISA. If your card provider offers the Verified by Visa service, you are able to register your card for added protection for online purchases. Finally, restrict your online purchases to your own personal computer.
- Do not keep your personal identification number (PIN) number with your debit card. Memorize the number, if possible, or at the very least, keep the written number in a secure place.
- When checking out at stores, keep your wallet out until you have your card safely back in your hand. Having an established shopping routine will go a long way to ensuring you do not walk away without getting your card back.
- Keep all of your holiday receipts. Save your receipts from purchases made with a credit or debit card until you can check the actual charges against your monthly bank statements. Not only will having the receipts facilitate returns or exchanges, you can readily identify potential fraudulent purchases that you did not make.
- Notify your bank if you know you are going to be making a larger purchase outside of your normal spending habits. This notification will prevent any concerns by the bank or credit card provider over identity theft and can keep your card from becoming locked.
- Consider using only one card to purchase gifts this Christmas. Reducing the number of cards you carry at this time of year could reduce your potential for loss and/or exposure to fraud. Carrying only one debit or credit card can also help you better track your holiday spending and keep your budget in check.
For additional safety tips for your ATM and debit cards, click here.