Ten Tips to Protect Your Credit Card During the Holiday Season

Nov 13, 2002, 00:00 ET from American Financial Services Association Education Foundation

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- With credit card use more prevalent
 this time of the year, the American Financial Services Association Education
 Foundation (AFSAEF) offers ten tips to help consumers avoid fraudulent charges
 on their cards and reduce their odds of becoming identity theft victims:
     1)  Limit the number of cards you carry on shopping trips - Bring only
         those that you'll actually use.
     2)  Keep an eye on your card - Make sure you get it back promptly after
         each use.
     3)  Conceal your card while waiting to pay for purchases - Someone in line
         behind you might try to memorize or copy your account number.
     4)  Put your card in a secure place - When the cashier returns it to you,
         don't absent mindedly stick your card in a coat pocket or someplace
         else where it can easily fall out.
     5)  Treat receipts carefully - Check them to see if your account number is
         hidden (with Xs) except for the last four digits.  If the full number
         is visible on a receipt, don't leave it lying around.  When your
         billing statements arrive, compare them with holiday receipts to help
         spot any unauthorized charges.
     6)  Be especially selective when shopping online - Shop with companies you
         know and stick to secure Web sites.  Look for a locked padlock, an
         unbroken key or a lock icon (displayed at the bottom or on the status
         bar of the screen) to determine if a Web site uses security software.
     7)  Don't give out your account number unless you initiate the transaction
         - Watch out for any phone, Internet or mail solicitations that ask you
         for this information.
     8)  Fill in blanks on receipts - When dining out, draw a line through any
         blank spaces on the receipt (i.e. tip/gratuity space if you leave a
         cash tip) and total the amounts before signing.
     9)  Don't lend your credit card to anyone - That includes family members.
     10) Sign your card on the back - This should be done when a new or
         replacement card arrives in the mail.
     "Even with the sophisticated technology now being used by credit card
 companies and retailers, fundamental steps and common sense need to be part of
 a cardholder's defense against credit card fraud and identity theft, both
 during the holiday season and all year around," says Susie Irvine, AFSAEF's
 president and CEO.
     "Above all, holiday shoppers should exercise caution anytime they reveal
 their credit card account numbers," she adds.
     Founded in 1990 and based in Washington, DC, AFSAEF develops consumer
 education materials and sponsors research on consumer finance issues.  It is
 affiliated with the American Financial Services Association, a national trade
 association for market-funded financial services firms providing credit to
 consumers and small businesses.
     Note:  AFSAEF's publications include "Managing Your Holiday Spending," a
 free pamphlet to help holiday shoppers avoid much of the stress and strain of
 seasonal expenses.  Consumers may obtain a copy by visiting ASAEF's Web site
 at http://www.afsaef.org, or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
 AFSA Education Foundation, 919 18th Street, N.W., 3rd Floor, Dept. HS,
 Washington, DC  20006.
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SOURCE American Financial Services Association Education Foundation