I’m concerned about the hassle of replacing my credit card or, worse, having to deal with a big fraudulent charge. How can I keep my credit card safe?
A: Criminal gangs thrive on credit card fraud. Here are some tips for protecting your credit card.
Your firm needs a primary credit card for business purposes. You use it to pay your major expenses for which credit cards are accepted. By limiting the number of companies that have your primary card information, you reduce your exposure to theft, fraud, and even the inconvenience of replacing that card due to a failed attempt by a thief.
You might think, “Oh, it’s not so bad if someone rips off my credit card. The card company will give me the money back, and I’ll just get a new number.”
Two things are wrong with that thinking.
First, your card company might not be so fast to reverse the fraudulent charge. Read about a reporter’s long ordeal with her credit card company trying to remove nearly $10,000 in fraudulent charges. The lesson from that story is to pay careful attention to any texts or emails from your credit card company and any notice that you will receive a new card in the mail.
Second, it’s a hassle to go to the website of each of your vendors if your card number needs to be changed. Plus, if the timing is wrong, an automatic payment from your canceled credit card could be declined, leading to more hassles.
Protect Your Primary Credit Card and Checking Account
Avoid carrying your primary credit card with you. Take it with you just for in-person, major credit card purchases, and then store it safely. By choosing a primary card with a generous cash-back rate, you can receive a substantial amount of tax-free money over time.
Don’t use your primary card for occasional online spending. Instead, use a secondary credit card or debit card for in-person purchases and ordering things online.
Simply taking out a second credit card and using it for small and online purchases can protect your primary card.
A debit card connected to a second checking account is another good option. It can protect your primary credit card and primary checking account. Use the second checking account only for debit card purchases. Ask if your bank will decline any purchases for more than the account balance. Get their assurance that their system can impose that restriction.
Limit your exposure by keeping a low balance in this extra checking account. You can conveniently transfer money online from your primary checking account into the second checking account as needed.
You might have lesser protection with a bank debit card than with a separate credit card, so ask about the bank’s policies.
For more extensive advice on avoiding fraud against law firms in general, sign up for this American Bar Association webinar (free for ABA members):