Despite the fact that tens of millions of consumers were hit by the numerous big breaches, and tens of millions more by less sensationalized breaches, you can still take the reins and yield some protection for your credit cards.
- Make online payments with single-use or prepaid cards. What a great idea!
- If you have multiple recurring payments for ongoing services, use only one credit card for those.
- For shopping, use a one-time or prepaid card. Though the single-use credit card number is linked to your real card number, it will prevent the real number from becoming exposed should the site get hacked. Discover, Citibank and Bank of America offer single-use (disposable) card numbers.
- A prepaid card is different, in that it’s independent of your real card number. If the prepaid card gets stolen, you can replace it without this affecting your primary credit card account.
- If you have a debit card…don’t shop with it. Use it only to take funds out of a bank ATM. If a crook gets ahold of your debit card…the money will instantly be stolen from your bank account. If a thief gets your credit card, however, and makes unauthorized purchases, there’s a time lapse between when the purchases are made and when the money is actually withdrawn—enough time for you to file a dispute (if you regularly monitor your statements).
- Though you’ll get reimbursed for fraud that occurs with a debit card, this will happen after your bank account has been sucked dry. So avoid using a debit card at gas stations, casino machines and other such places where it’s easy for a crook to tamper with the card reader.
- Better yet, just limit its use to the bank ATM. Think of your debit card as an ATM card. This doesn’t mean that an ATM can’t be tampered with; be on the lookout for signs of tampering such as tiny cameras to capture PINs, or something odd about the card reader.
- Set up email or text notifications via your bank or credit card companies website to alert you to all charges. This way, whenever a charge comes in, you’ll know about it.