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Credit Card Self Defense - 7 Ways To Protect Your Credit Cards

With the many protections in place today for cardholders, most people today don't worry all that much about a credit card falling into the wrong hands.  The reality is, however, that being the victim of a credit card theft can represent much more than just an inconvenience. 

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7 Ways To Protect Yourself 

1. Understand The Law - Never Share Your PIN

Federal law limits your loss on a stolen credit card to a maximum of $50. Things get much more murky on debit cards, however. If you don't report the loss of a debit card within two business days you can lose up to $500. The two day clock starts running when you knew that the card was compromised, but the best rule of thumb is to make an immediate report. If you were careless with your PIN or shared it with someone, you could actually lose all of the money in your account and have no recourse. It is interesting to note that banks are getting much more aggressive about making cardholders responsible for debit card losses. 

2. Keep A 'Report Lost Or Stolen Card Phone List' Separate From Your Wallet

If a card is stolen or lost, you may have difficulty finding the 24 hour 'lost or stolen' reporting phone number. This will vary based on your card, but many institutions do not have 24 hour customer service, and have a separate phone number for 24 hour reporting of lost or stolen cards. Imagine losing your wallet or purse and needing to remember all of the cards you had and locate the phone numbers. Talk about a nightmare! Keeping a list of these phone numbers in a desk drawer or file cabinet would be a lifesaver.

3. Don't Carry Around All Of Your Cards

Do you really need to keep every credit card you own in your wallet? It makes a lot of sense to carry just a couple of cards and leave the rest at home.

4. Set Daily Limits On Your Cards

Many cards/banks will allow you to set daily limits for spending and withdrawals. It is definitely worth asking about. Why not just set a daily spending limit of a few hundred dollars and raise that only when you need to make a major purchase? This makes a lot of sense, and will save you the headache of dealing with thousands of dollars of fraudulent charges. Many credit card companies already set in place daily limits based on your historical spending. If you attempt to charge more than this amount, they may want to speak with you to verify your identity.

5. Use Cards With Real Time E Mail Notifications

I have a Paypal Mastercard and I receive an e mail within about one minute after a transaction. This is a fantastic benefit and has saved me many times. About two months ago I was working on an article and an e mail came in showing a $150 purchase at a Wal-Mart in southern Illinois (it was not me as I was sitting at my computer in Palm Coast, Florida). I immediately called PayPal. While I was on hold two more transactions came through. They were able to shut off the card within five minutes and immediately reimburse me for the charges. Many credit cards offer e mail notifications, but you have to go through a few steps to get this set up. It is well worth the trouble. Even if your card does not offer e mail notifications, you will at least be able to log in frequently to review transactions.

What was especially strange was that my PayPal Mastercard was still in my wallet. Somehow the thieves made a copy of the card. Without these e mail notifications the theft would have been much worse.

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6. When In Doubt Don't Use A Card At All

As most people know, one of the things we do here at ChristianMoney.com is teach Internet Marketing. Part of my job is to keep up to date on the latest ideas and concept in that niche. There are occasions where I stumble across a website that might be selling something like a book or video titled 'How To Get A Zillion Visits To Your Website." There are so many cases where I won't make that purchase unless I can do so with my Paypal account (Paypal does offer a Mastercard but that is not what I am referencing here).

Paypal's most popular role is that of a third party payment gateway. They transfer the funds from my account to the merchant, but they don't share my account information (so the merchant has no way to charge me any additional amount). They also have a vast array of 'buyer protection' policies (which makes getting a refund very easy if the item you bought was misrepresented or you never received it). The policies are so favorable in protecting buyers, that many merchants won't offer Paypal as an option.

Another tactic to use when making an online purchase from an unfamiliar vendor is to use your credit card that has the lowest available credit line. 

7. Be Careful About Giving Your Card Number Over The Phone

Traditional telemarketing has largely gone by the wayside, but there are still numerous scenarios where you might legitimately be asked to provide your credit card number over the phone.  My general policy on this is that I won't give out my card number over the phone unless it is a company that I have regular ongoing business with. 

Other Issues To Be Aware Of

Credit card skimming is another scam I have not even mentioned in this article. Your card can easily be cloned with a skimming device in any number of retail establishments. Check out my prior article on wireless skimming and RFID.

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris 
Editor-In-Chief ChristianMoney.com 
Follow Me on Twitter Twitter.com/jameslparis
Christian Financial Advice 
Jim Paris 24 Hour Radio

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