A credit card offers great convenience; however if your personal or account information is lost or stolen, it can also be a source of endless aggravation. PrivacyWise™ is a reference guide that helps you:

  • Reduce the risk of having your credit card account or your identity stolen
  • Quickly respond if you've been a victim

Protecting Yourself

It is important to understand the distinction between unauthorized use of your account (account takeover) and identity theft. Account takeover occurs when there are unauthorized charges on an account that you opened. Identity theft occurs when an account is opened under your name, without your authorization.

Protecting your account
  • Online: When applying for a new card or using it

    • Security
      Always check for the browser's "lock" icon, but understand that this only signifies a secure communication channel, not necessarily the legitimate website of your card issuer.

    • Anti-virus and spyware protection software

      • Maintain active, up-to-date anti-virus and spyware protection software. Take the time to learn how to use these tools. Most can be set to automatically update and run at least once a week.
      • Keep your operating system and browser updated with the latest security patches.

    • Password

      • Never share with anyone the information used to authenticate your online banking and credit card account(s).
      • Keep your password safe - Avoid writing your password information down where others might find it, or in a file on your computer.
      • Use a strong password - at least eight characters, with a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters and other special characters.
      • Do not use the same password for financial websites that you use for other online accounts.
      • Change your password periodically.

    • Review your account activity periodically
      Check your credit card account statements monthly for unauthorized activity. If you see activity that does not look familiar, notify your credit card issuer immediately.

    • Accessing your online credit card account
      Access your credit card issuer's website by typing the URL in your browser address bar, rather than clicking links you might see in an email.

  • Offline: When using your card

    • Signature Panel
      Always sign the back of your credit card instead of writing 'Check ID' or 'SEE ID'. Your signature signifies that you have accepted the terms of your credit card, without which your card may not be accepted by merchants.

    • Credit card information over the phone
      It is not advisable to provide your credit card information over the phone, unless you have initiated the call and trust the party or retailer. It is also safer to use corded land line phones rather than cordless or cell phones, as these transmissions can potentially be intercepted.

    • Receipts

      • Review before signing
        Always add up your charge slip before signing it. Draw lines through blank areas. Never sign a blank charge slip.
      • Save receipts
        Receipts are proof of your purchases and transactions. They are invaluable in the event of a dispute. Don't throw away your debit or credit card receipts.
      • Shred, shred, shred
        When you've reconciled your monthly billing statement, shred your receipts to prevent thieves from rifling through your trash to obtain your account information.

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