It is always wise to keep up to date on your Internet usage and protect the information you choose to share online. Criminals have really refined their ways to get you into coughing up the right information and in many cases, consumers had no clue they had been had.
The truth is that just about everyone has a credit card. Whether you use yourcredit card for monthly purchases and pay it off each and every month or onlyhold on to your card for emergencies—chances are that there's at least onepiece of plastic in your wallet. But did you know that it's far too easy foryour personal credit card information to get leaked out and used? This is justone of the things that can lead to identify theft, fraud, and other frustratingand harmful crimes that can ruin your credit and cause tons in legal fees.
However, there are ways to keep your credit card informationsafe and secure so that greedy thieves will have a difficult time tapping intoyour private information. Following are five waysto help to protect your information and discourage any sort of identifytheft that, unfortunately, happens all the time:
1. Shred sensitive documents instead of just tossing them inthe trash. It's true—such a simple step can actually go a long way toprotecting your identity. There are many paper shredders that aren't all thatexpensive and are actually quite convenience and small, so don't feel like youhave to invest in a heavy-duty shredder just for the sake of security.
2. Avoid using your social security number when possible.Your social security number should only be used when it's absolutelynecessary—otherwise, use an alternate customer identifier.
3. Never leave your cards unattended—even at work. It's alltoo easy for someone to pinch that credit card out of your wallet or out ofyour desk drawer. Keep your credit cards with you at all times.
4. Keep on top of your financial statements. When thatcredit card statement comes in the mail, open and read it immediately to makesure there aren't any charges that you didn't authorize. Don't get a bill onemonth? Call the credit card company immediately and let me know that you didn'treceive your bill.
5. Make your credit card login password as complicated aspossible—and don't write it down! This is one thing that everyone should do.Many times, people choose simple passwords so that they'll be sure to rememberthem. Unfortunately, this makes it far too easy for hackers and other identitythieves to use computer programs to crack your password. When you use acombination of capital letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers, you'rehelping to make your information more secure.
6. Never, ever give your credit card information or otherhigh-security personal information such as your social security number over thephone unless you're dealing with a trusted company and you initiated the phonecall.
These are just five ways that you can help to protect yourpersonal information. In this day and age, it has become all too simple forcons to steal your information and use it for their own purchases and benefits.By understanding what you can do to better protect yourself—and followingthrough—you'll be helping to keep your information as safe and secure aspossible.
Katrina Robinson is a freelance writer and editorbased in Charleston, South Carolina. She writes about a widevariety of topics including health, fashion, finances, and credit cards.