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How vulnerable are your credit cards?

September 20, 2015

For some reason, data breaches keep popping up to say hi; they follow us everywhere we go.

In 2014 alone, Data Breaches could have taken you out to dinner (P.F. Changs), remodeled your home (Home Depot), picked up your groceries (Albertsons), shipped that package for you (UPS), taken you for some ice cream (Dairy Queen), bought you a new pair of pants (Bebe) and then taken you for a movie (Sony).

And, that’s only the beginning.

Want to chat 2015?

Try Kaspersky Lab, one of the largest security firms in the world.  Even they were hacked.

Want to incite a full on panic attack?  Try LastPass.  (Don’t know who they are?  Check out their website and you’ll understand why I would say panic attack.)

Enough about that, though.  Let’s get to the how-to.  And, since a key target of data breaches is credit card information, here are some tips and tricks to keep your credit card from jumping ship.

Ask for a replacement.

If there’s another data breach and you feel that you are directly affected by it, immediately request a new card.  If possible, deactivate your current card.

Monitor account activity.

Watch your accounts daily.  By doing so, if one of your cards is compromised, you’ll immediately see external charges (instead of two, three or five days too late).

Maintain your passwords.

Keep strong passwords that are unique to every account you have.  Change them as often as you would your toothbrush and never save them on websites.

Monitor your credit score.

About once a month, check your credit score.  There are a multitude of legitimate sites that offer free credit reports.  Exploit these avenues.

Follow your card.

When you purchase items with your credit cards at stores, keep an eye on it at all times.  Make sure the cashier isn’t jotting down your number or photocopying it in the back room.

Lock your phone.

Nowadays we use our smartphone to check our bank, purchase items and store personal information.  So, don’t leave your phone unattended and make sure it always has a secure lock.

Understand phishing.

When someone asks for your number over the phone, through email or by any other means, make sure you trust this person, organization or source.  Figure out a way to verify the source before sending anything.

Don’t go public.

Never use a public device to purchase items or send personal information.  Keep it close to home and secure.

Shred everything you can.

Purchase a shredder and shred all statements, bills and important documents.  Don’t leave important numbers or background information just hanging out in the trash, waiting for someone to find it.

Carry less, not more.

Plan your trips and pack accordingly.  If you’re going to Wal-Mart, only take the card you need to complete your shopping trip.  Don’t bring all 20 of your credit cards.  Lock them up at home.