Ask Money Doctor
By: Dan Merrick
Recently my 18 year old daughter started in college. The credit card offers started coming in like the pill to cure her money ills. She reviewed a few and came to dad for advice. Once she and I selected one with the lowest interest available, it was not long before she had her first credit card.
Now it was time for her to add that all important security information. Here are the tips for security I gave her which might help you in preventing identity theft and scams on credit lines:
Use a security word on the account. Most credit card companies ask for mothers maiden names. Don’t use maiden names. A genealogy search online can tell everyone your mothers maiden name. Use a made-up word that will be easy for you to remember. I try to create one from several combinations of unrelated words that only mean something to me.
Use paperless billing. Paper bills can be viewed if discarded in the trash. If you use paper billing get a shredder or burn the statements once you are done with them. Online web billing is encrypted and is actually more secure.
Use credit for minor purchases only. To best manage credit when it is new, you will gain better credit scores by paying off the balance each month. Staying within your means when purchasing can help you gain discipline for later in life when making larger purchases such as a house.
Guard your card when using it. Keep a thumb over your credit card numbers when you take it out to make an in store purchases. Prying eyes of thief’s are lurking everywhere. Covering your numbers or turning to block others view of your information is an added security level that is more effective than you might think.
Avoid ATM and cash advances. The interest rates on cash advances are to large and ATM’s are not very secure. Credit card companies love you to use them because they make tons on what you pay back in higher interest for cash advances. Use the card to make the purchase instead. The interest will be lower and you can avoid risks that using an ATM can create.
Shop online. Online shopping is actually more secure because no one can see your credit information but you and the credit card company. With 128 bit encryption online purchases from home are a better way to enjoy shopping and avoid exposing your credit information to strangers. Insure that you close your browser after each purchase and empty your cache of any encrypted information.
Save copies of credit cards in a home safe. Copy both the back and front of your cards and keep them in a safe at home. Should your card be lost or stolen, you can use your backup copy to contact the bank or credit card company with the information.
Use check cards instead of credit. Bank account check cards are a great way to keep accurate records of your purchases for budgeting. Having ready receipts in the form of a bank statement can be convenient at tax time also.
Get a fraud insurance policy. Many credit reporting bureaus have identity theft policies and credit card protection insurance. The added protection can be worth it if you become a victim of credit crime.
Download your online statements. Many credit card companies have online downloading of monthly statements in MS Money or Quicken formats. This can help you to keep accurate records for budgeting and taxes.
Dan Merrick is the CFO of RDJC, Inc. and the author of ‘Instructions To Money’ From Welfare To Millionaire published by Outskirts Press. If you have a question for Dan about your business or money you can write:’ Ask Money Doctor’ 125 W. Main Smethport, Pa 16749 or you can go to his web site and post your question on the message board. The ideas expressed in ‘Ask Money Doctor’ are for personal informational and resource purposes. For professional investing suited to your financial needs the advice of a competent licensed broker, tax consultant, CPA, or advisor is recommended.