AFI COVID-19 Response Learn More

Protect Credit Cards, Credit Reports, and Debit Cards

Tips for protecting your credit cards, credit reports, and debit cards

  • Minimize the number of credit and debit cards you use, and carry only one or two at a time.
  • Cancel unused accounts. They provide additional targets for identity thieves. However, be aware that canceling credit cards may affect your credit score adversely.
  • If you expect a new or reissued credit or debit card in the mail and it doesn't show up on time, contact the issuer immediately.
  • Check your credit reports as frequently as possible, at least twice a year. Ask for a 3-in-1, merged credit report with a summary from all three credit bureaus. Under the federal FACT Act, consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the major agencies. For details, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228.
  • Enroll in credit monitoring products to monitor activity.
  • Enroll in fraud monitoring (public records monitoring) to alert you of attempts to alter or acquire your identity data.
  • Each month carefully review your financial statements, bank statements and phone bills (including mobile phones) for unauthorized use.
  • Keep a list and/or photocopies of credit cards, bank accounts and investment accounts in a secure place (not in your wallet or purse!). Include account numbers and phone numbers for customer service and fraud departments, so you can contact them quickly if cards are stolen or accounts are abused.
  • Avoid using a PIN-based debit card for purchases when traveling or in any place where you aren't completely familiar with the personnel.
  • With unfamiliar merchants use a credit card, which is better protected, or elect to use a non-PIN based transaction. PIN-based transactions are easily "skimmed," making your checking account vulnerable to theft.
  • Check your Social Security Earnings Statement each year for signs of fraud. You should receive it yearly approximately three months before your birthday.