Other Methods of Protection
These tips are important and universal:
  • Sign your card -- as soon as you receive it! (Obviously, this is only as effective as the clerk who's checking it.)

  • When you use your card at an ATM, enter your PIN in such a way that no one can easily memorize your keystrokes.

  • Don't leave your receipt behind at the ATM.

    Your PIN and account number from a discarded receipt could make you vulnerable to credit-card fraud. Also, don't throw out your credit-card statement, receipts or carbons without first shredding them!

  • Never give your credit-card number over the telephone unless you initiated the call.
    Even when you place the call to a legitimate merchant (such as a mail-order company), never give your card number out over a cordless phone. Radio scanners that eavesdrop on these conversations are available for a few hundred dollars at any electronics store, and your voice can be received by one from a far greater distance than the maximum useful range of your cordless phone. One common scam is when someone calls you "back" right after you place an order, claims to be from the merchant and tells you that there was a problem with your card number -- would you mind giving it to them again? The best thing to do is ask for a contact name and call the merchant back at the number you used originally.

  • Ignore any credit-card offer that requires you to spend money up-front or fails to disclose the identity of the card issuer.

  • Make certain you get your card back after you make a purchase (one habit to observe is to leave your wallet open in your hand until you have the card back). Also, make sure that you personally rip up any voided or cancelled sales slips.

  • Always keep a list of your credit cards, credit-card numbers and toll-free numbers in case your card is stolen or lost.

  • Check your monthly statement to make certain all charges are your own, and immediately notify the card issuer of any errors or unauthorized charges. (More on this later!)

Now, you get a credit-card application and there's all this small print. Want to know what it's really saying?