Unless we all move to Europe, though, we’ll have to make do with the cards currently in our wallets. They’re getting safer year by year, but trouble seems to lurk around every corner where billions of financial transactions are concerned.
If you’re buying online with a credit card, look for an “S” to be tacked onto the “HTTP” in the web address line. This stands for “secure,” and indicates that the merchant is scrambling communications between its website and your browser. That should keep the bad guys at bay. (HTTP, btw, means Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, which is the protocol over which data is sent).
Most merchants these days also will ask for your CSC – card security code. This is a three-digit numbers group that is separate from your account number. Thanks to these transactions taking place at the speed of light, the merchant is transmitting your data to the card issuer and instantaneously halts the purchase should those numbers not match.
Of course, anyone who holds your card and isn’t blind also knows that CSC (thus, the PIN is to my way of thinking a better idea).
Now, if you’re at a restaurant or department store and use your card, you’re going to get a receipt to sign. Bank of America advises that if you see any blank lines on that receipt, draw a line through it to make sure no one can come in after you and pencil in some fresh numbers.
If you have a choice between a credit and debit transaction with the same bank card, experts say you should choose credit. There are stringer fraud protections with credit cards. And if something bad does happen, a credit card liability is capped at $50. With a debit card it’s $500, or in some cases more.
Plus, bear in mind that your debit card is linked to your bank account. Not so with a credit card.
Have a merry, safe shopping, holiday season.
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