Your credit cards get quite a workout during the holiday season. Shopping in a store or online, you need to keep your credit card account safe.

Here are some precautions you can take:

Don’t use debit cards

Use cash or a credit card to make purchases. If someone gets hold of your debit card number and PIN, your bank accounts can be emptied before you know it. Some merchants have had their point of sale devices hacked where thieves can steal card and PIN information.  Most credit cards come with fraud protection where you are not liable for fraudulent charges.

Check your account online

Keep an eye on your credit card account activity. Sign up for an online account through your credit card company’s website. You can check your account anytime and as often as you want instead of waiting for a monthly paper statement. Frequently checking your credit card account can help you quickly catch any fraudulent charges and freeze the account. Report any unusual activity on your account immediately to the credit card company.

Shop on secure websites

When shopping online, make sure you are on a legitimate retail site and that it is encrypted. Look at the URL in the address bar to see if there is an “s” at the end of https://. Also, there should be a padlock icon. Make sure it is “locked.” This ensures a secured site.

Use a single credit card number

Some banks offer a virtual credit card number – one temporary number tied to your credit card. Should a criminal accessed the number, your credit card account information would be safe. Mastercard and Visa also have virtual card numbers that are linked to a virtual account for a specific online retailer.

Sign up for alerts

You can sign up for alerts for your credit card. Go to your online account and check off alerts for charges made over the phone or online and not using a physical card at time of purchase. Also, you can have alerts for charges over a certain dollar amount. The alerts can be texted, phoned or emailed to your mobile device so you can get a jump on any possible fraudulent activity.

Stay safe on pubic WiFi

If you’re using your mobile device at a public place, make sure the WiFi is legitimate. Turn on the firewall and turn off file sharing on your device. Create a virtual private network (VPN) that will encrypt data from your device making it difficult to be hacked.

Keeping your credit cards safe during the holidays can make for a happier holiday season.

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