Modern banking is convenient but you still need to stay vigilant to protect your credit and debit cards, which thieves can use for both financial theft and identity theft.
Here is some card security information, as well as some pointers about protecting yourself and your identity, when using ATMs.
- Always keep your credit and debit cards in a safe place; never leave your card lying around the house or on your desk at work. No one should have access to the card but you.
- If your card is lost or stolen, notify your bank immediately. Many banks offer online resources to make reporting a lost card even easier.
- If you use a check to pay your credit card bill, only include the last four digits of your card's account number on your check payment.
Chip cards are one more way to help you prevent credit theft. The thumb-size metallic square on your credit cards is a computer chip, which turns your credit card into a chip card and makes it nearly impossible for hackers to clone credit cards. Unlike the magnetic stripe on traditional credit cards, chip cards don't store sensitive information. Instead, each time the card is used, a unique transaction code is generated. If hackers intercept that transaction, they will not be able to use the code again.
As you get up to speed on chip cards, keep these five facts in mind:
- Insert, don't swipe: Instead of swiping the magnetic stripe, you insert the chip card into a chip reader.
- More secure, but not foolproof: Though chip cards are more secure, they can still be compromised. If your physical card is lost or stolen, it can be used by someone else since most cards only require a signature. What's more, the credit card chip doesn't protect against online fraud, so your card could still be compromised by Internet purchases.
- They're slower: We've all grown used to the speed of swiping, but the chip reader takes longer. Expect to spend a few more seconds at the checkout line.
- You can use the magnetic stripe as backup: While you should always use the chip reader, not all retailers have it installed or activated yet. If they do not, chip cards also have a magnetic stripe you can use.
- Fraud liability doesn't change for the consumer, but it does change for the card issuer and the merchant at point of sale: If there are fraudulent transactions on your credit card, you still have the same fraud protections with a chip card as before (you may be required to pay up to $50 for those transactions, but often you will not be charged).
- Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) a secret. Never share your PIN, even for the sake of convenience.
- Change your PIN on a regular basis. Most banks allow you to easily change your PIN online or by phone.
- If you must write down your PIN, do not keep it in your wallet, purse or on the card itself.
- When selecting a PIN, avoid numbers and letters that can be easily identified or associated with you. Do not use your initials, birth date, telephone number or any part of the card number.
- When using an ATM, do not allow others to see your PIN, what type of transaction you are making or how much money you are withdrawing.
ATM safety tips
- Be wary of people trying to help you with ATM transactions. If you feel unsafe, or as though something is amiss, move on. It's usually not too difficult to find another ATM.
- Always be ready for your transaction. Have your card ready as you approach the ATM. This will help you avoid spending time digging through your purse or your wallet.
- Do not use an ATM that appears unusual looking or offers options with which you are not familiar or comfortable. Some scam artists actually plant unregistered ATMs in order to collect card numbers and PINs.
- Avoid large cash withdrawals.
- Do not count or display any money you received from the ATM.
- Take all of your receipts with you.