Protecting Your Credit Cards
Protect your credit cards against fraud and overspending.

When you receive a credit card, write the words "Request Photo ID" in the signature strip. This will require cashiers to ask the credit card user to show a picture ID when using the card. This makes it harder for thieves to successfully use your card.

If you make online credit card purchases, then use one card for all these transactions and keep the limit on that card as low as possible.

Online purchases normally are safe; however, limit the types of information you provide. Generally avoid giving out your age, income, or email address. Never offer your Social Insurance Number or Social Security Number.

If you or someone in your family has reached a credit card limit, consider the following ideas.

Being over your limit is irresponsible, expensive, and harmful to your credit rating. Get all your card balances below their limits immediately, if at all possible.

Call your credit card companies and ask if they will reverse any over-the-limit charges you might have incurred. Tell them you’re working to reduce your balance below the limit and would appreciate any grace on their part. The worst they can do is say, "No."

If you cannot bring your balance below the limit immediately, then make this a high priority. Reduce your balance now, and bring it below the limit as soon as possible.

Are you lucky enough to have a spouse, parent, or sibling who is willing to help you to recover financially? If so, ask them if they will lower your credit balance below its limit. This will help your credit rating, which probably will benefit your whole family in the long term.

Should you require help in controlling your spending, then give your credit card to a "financial recovery angel" until you pay down the balance to 75 percent of the limit. Keep in mind that many credit bureaus think poorly of cards that exceed 75 percent of their limits.

If you are overwhelmed by the challenge of recovering from maxed out credit cards, it would be wise to meet with a bankruptcy trustee.

Paying money towards overextended credit debt is smart only if you have a recovery plan. Without a plan, you probably are just prolonging the eventual financial recovery solution, which is to claim bankruptcy.

Learn about preventing gambling harms.

Learn about protecting your savings accounts.

Learn about protecting your investments.

Return to the main Wealth Protection Tips page.

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