PIN, Debit Cards, and Credit Cards

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As technology advances, so does the methods of thieves. It is not paranoid, silly, or overprotective to take protective measures to secure the integrity of these cards and PINS. While you may not be able to keep a watchful eye on your cards at all times (ie, when a waiter takes a card to the back to finalize payment), you can still take steps to protect yourself.

First and foremost, you should consider using a credit card with optimal security features instead of debit cards for transactions. In general, credit card companies understand the prevalence of identity theft and credit card theft. They have advanced their security protocols and their reimbursement procedures leading to a quick and efficient system for consumers. In case of theft, you will find that working with credit card companies requires less hassle and is quicker for reimbursement than trying to resolve the situation with a bank.

Next, you should consider using bank tellers instead of ATMs. Although it is slightly more time consuming to withdraw money this way, it eliminates the risk of ATM skimmers and over-the-shoulder peekers. While it may not be completely feasible to do this all the time, you should at least evaluate the machine for suspect attachments or signs, such as a sign indicating that you should “swipe here” before entering your card into the machine’s card reader.

Also, carry only the cards necessary. That way, if a pickpocket steals your wallet, or if you accidentally leaves your purse somewhere, you’ll only have a short list o f companies to notify, and the damage can be minimized.

New credit card technologies also bring some added hazards. The unique benefit of being able to “wave” a card at a card reader instead of “swiping” it also means that thieves may have card readers that can read these types of cards as you walk past (these devices are known as Rogue RFID Scanners). To protect against these types of scanners, you can buy RFID protective sleeves, wallets, and even pocket liners. They create an impenetrable barrier that prevents thieves from gaining access to your data.

Finally, request an annual credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). According to recent statistics, only one out of five people invoke this simple protection . Thoroughly review each and every entry on the report. If something suspicious is on the report, contact the credit bureau for inquiry. If it cannot be resolved by the bureau, directly contact the company listed on the report. If it still cannot be resolved, proceed through the appropriate channels to dispute the entry, and flag the reports for unauthorized activity with all three o f the credit reporting bureaus.