Do you have multiple credit cards? If so, are you using all of them regularly?
According to January 2016 Credit Karma member data, over 40 percent of members who own at least one credit card and checked their credit report in the past six months had at least one open credit card with no balance reported, which could mean they're not actively using all of their cards.
Doing this might leave you more susceptible to fraud and identity theft. If you don't use a card, you may not monitor the card's statement and could fail to notice if there are unauthorized charges.
Your card may be at risk of fraud even if it's sitting at home in a drawer. Thieves may have acquired your credit card information at some point in the past and will sometimes wait before using or selling stolen credit card information. Also, websites and merchants that have your card's details in their database may get hacked.
So what are things can you do to protect yourself from fraud?
1. Set up online access and alerts to monitor your credit accounts.
Many credit card issuers have automatic fraud prevention measures, but sometimes unauthorized charges get through undetected.
You can help catch fraud early by keeping a close eye on your credit accounts. The first step: setting up an online account. Thomas Nitzsche of nonprofit ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions says, "Setting up online access for all your accounts is a great idea because many creditors offer tools that help a consumer properly manage the account - plus it allows for immediate access to activity and history."
Thomas also recommends setting up alerts on your credit cards -- you can request to receive an email or text alert from most major credit card issuers when specific events occur.
With American Express, for example, you can sign up to receive an alert if there's irregular account activity, if cash is withdrawn, or if a purchase of more than a chosen amount is made.
Discover takes security a step further by offering a "Freeze It" function for cardholders. Using the mobile app, website or by making a call, you can temporarily freeze, or unfreeze, your card.
This can be a good option if you temporarily misplace a card or forget it somewhere such as a restaurant where it may not be secure.
2. Keep a card active with automated use and payments.
One hands-off approach to keeping your card active is to use it to automatically pay for an inexpensive monthly bill, such as a Netflix or Hulu subscription.
Then, sign up for automatic payments to pay the credit card statement in full each month. This keeps the card active and builds a history of on-time payments.
If you can add an alert that'll notify you of larger-than-expected transactions to the account and continue to check your account regularly, you'll be set.
3. Alert the issuer immediately if you suspect fraud.
If you do suspect fraud on your account, you should contact the card issuer immediately.
Under the 2009 Fair Credit Reporting Act, your loss for unauthorized credit card charges is capped at $50. If you report the loss of your credit card before it's used, you're not responsible for any charges on your card.
However, if someone makes unauthorized charges on your debit card, your liability could total the amount you have in your account and possibly more, depending on whether you have other accounts linked to your card and how quickly you report the charges.
Inactive cards may be susceptible to fraud, but you can take preventative measures by setting up alerts on your credit accounts and checking the accounts regularly.
You may also want to avoid closing an account - unless keeping it open is costing you money through, for example, annual fees - as closing an account with payment history might hurt your credit. You can set automatic payments and bill pay to keep an account active and use alerts to detect unusual activity.
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