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6 tips for keeping your credit card safe online

March 20, 2020
5 min read
Female using smart phone and notebook laptop computer
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information and benefits.

The battle to keep your information safe has been ongoing since credit cards were invented. For every new authentication method, thieves devise new and equally devious methods to extract your information and make off with your goods. So, what can you do to fend off fraudsters? Besides the obvious strategies of avoiding suspicious links and steering clear of unverified websites, make sure you're taking the following steps:

Beware of free Wi-Fi

(Photo by: Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
(Photo by: Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

You're not the only one who enjoys getting online for free. Whether you're connecting at the local coffee shop or in a hotel lobby, those open networks are easy targets for online thieves. If you're using them, it's important to restrict yourself to low-risk activities such as streaming music and movies or reading news. Do not access your bank accounts, review your credit card statements or input your credit card number to make mobile purchases. Even if you find the greatest deal on a flight for that vacation getaway, you should wait and find a secure connection to complete the purchase.

Regularly review transaction history

When you are in the safety of a secure Wi-Fi network (preferably at home), be sure to take a look at your recent transactions. Does anything look out of the ordinary? Is there anything you don't recognize? The sooner you catch a potentially compromised credit card, the better off you'll be. I recommend taking a look at your purchase history at least once each day. Think about it: You probably check your email messages dozens of times throughout the day, so take an extra few minutes to make sure your credit card is secure.

Avoid a lazy approach to passwords

(Photo by Janine Schmitz/Photothek via Getty Images)
(Photo by Janine Schmitz/Photothek via Getty Images)

I know it's not fun to manage unique 16-character passwords for every site you use online, but it's not wise to use the same password for all of your accounts. The rationale is simple: If online thieves manage to get through an unsecured site, they can easily crack your other accounts, too. And if you've stored your credit card information on any of those sites, you can find yourself in serious trouble.

Keep your social information private

(Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

This may not seem like it has a direct impact on your credit card, but the details of your public Facebook page can make a hacker's job easier. Your birthdate, your hometown, your high school — these pieces of information may lead to cracking your password. Reports have found that consumers who are especially active on social media had a significantly higher risk of having their accounts taken over by online thieves. So, check your settings to make sure that only your friends can see your private details, and avoid accepting friend requests from anyone you don't recognize.

Take two steps to make a thing go right

(Photo by Content Pixie/Unsplash)
(Photo by Content Pixie/Unsplash)

From your email account to your Amazon account to your bank account, you can enable two-step verification on a range of sites. If someone tries to access your account on an unrecognized device, they won't be able to get very far, and you'll receive an alert about the activity.

See if your card comes with extra security

If you use a MasterCard or a Visa, you may be able to take advantage of the card's beefed-up online security features. MasterCard has an offering called SecureCode, which functions like a PIN; it's an additional code you enter each time you make a purchase online. Verified by Visa is similar, sending you a password to complete the purchase. It adds one additional step to the buying process, but it's not much of a hassle -- and it's certainly better than having to cancel your card and worrying about how a hacker's crimes will impact your credit score.

Bottom line

The digital world keeps expanding and it can be difficult to keep your information safe online. From Amazon Prime to Hulu and even to DoorDash, your card information is constantly out there. Follow these simple tips to make sure online thieves are left wanting.

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Additional reporting by Carissa Rawson.

Featured photo by Oatawa/Getty Image.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto