More from the nerds
- Credit Cards
The results of our “card comparison and finder tool”, card assessments, and reviews are based on objective quantitative and qualitative analysis of card attributes. They are not affected by compensation.
Compensation may impact which cards we review and write about and how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear).
While we try to feature as many credit cards offers on our site as we can maintain (1,700+ and counting!), we recognize that our site does not feature every card company or card available on the market.
Additionally, our star ratings are a mix of user feedback and NerdWallet’s independent evaluation which are independent of compensation.
For a list of all of our advertising partners, click here
'> Advertiser Disclosure
Published on June 17, 2014
Credit cards have always been subject to theft. I recall having my card information stolen. I was using a rental car, stopped to fill up, gave the gas station guy the card, filled the tank, signed the charge slip, got my card back — and within a day a bunch of mystery charges appeared. I believe the station attendant used a skimming device to steal my magnetic strip data.
Now, EMV technology is coming to the United States. According to The Nilson Report. a news source for the payments industry, the U.S. accounts for some 47% of all credit card fraud in the world. Gross fraud losses were $11.27 billion in 2012, up 14.6% over the prior year.
EMV chip technology should become the most powerful line of defense yet against credit card information thievery. Yet, there are many other defenses that can be set in place. You have to be pro-active about many of them, however.
5 risks to credit card security — and how to avoid them
1. Your mailbox: Unless you have a locked box, a trolling thief can just amble past your home and peer inside your mailbox.
Since mail often gets delivered during work hours, you may never know it’s missing. Get a locked mailbox.
2. Social media: If you think social media isn’t a threat to personal privacy, you haven’t been paying attention. By permitting your Facebook page to be viewed by anyone, or having a Twitter account that details where you “check-in,” or revealing information on Instagram, a determined fraudster can compile quite a dossier on you. Once he has your name and address, he can use background-check services to get even more information. Be careful what you reveal online.
3. Dumpster diving: Private investigators are notorious for sifting through the trash to find dirt on those they surveil. Thieves are no different. If you don’t shred all your documents, bills, credit cards offers and anything with identifying information, you are exposing yourself to needless risk.
4. Public Wi-Fi spots: What about that public Wi-Fi connection you are using at your local coffee shop? Is it protected or encrypted? Can someone hop onto that signal and get a peek at what you are typing? Ask.
5. Phone inquiries: Use your gut when a stranger calls you, claiming to be from Visa or MasterCard. Since these issuers own much of the issuing market, it is highly likely that if they say, “Hi, I’m X from Visa, we have a security issue on your card,” you will actually have a Visa card. They may try to trick you into revealing personal information and passwords. Remember that Visa or MasterCard is highly unlikely to contact you. More likely, it will be the bank that the credit card is with that would call you.
Take solace, don’t panic
Ultimately, you should do whatever you can to protect your credit card. You can also breathe easy, because almost all cards will not hold you liable for than $50 in fraudulent charges, provided you report unauthorized charges within two or three months of when they occur. You can also take solace in the fact that many cards track your usage, so if unusual activity is detected, they will contact you to verify the charge. Of course, anytime you have a serious identity theft issue, immediately contact the credit bureaus .