Chances are good you’re doing a lot of “swiping” this time of year. Before you make that next credit card purchase (whether in person or online), make sure you avoid the following common mistakes. Failure to do so leaves you at serious risk of identity theft.


1. Don’t go “phishing.” Make sure emails you receive come from their expected address… and NEVER click on anything that doesn’t come from a trusted source. Doing so exposes you to a “phishing” scam. This is one of the most common ways people contract computer viruses.

2. Don’t swipe your card through suspicious equipment. If the scanner device looks broken, old, or altered with extra hardware, do not swipe your card through it.

3. Don’t purchase through unsecure sites. Never conduct an electronic payment through a website that doesn’t use encryption (a website that begins with https://… is encrypted; one with http://… is not). And never conduct payments over an open WiFi network, like at a coffee shop.

4. Don’t use debit cards or checks. Credit card policies allow scammed balances to be settled fast… but debit card/check scams can freeze your bank account. Save your debit card for the ATM machine only.

5. Don’t carry around loose papers. Paper mail in your brief case or backpack can easily find its way into crooks’ hands… along with all your account details.

6. Don’t keep bad apps on your phone. Double check the applications (“apps”) you’ve downloaded onto your phone. Get rid of unused apps. And be careful when downloading new ones. Make sure you download apps that have plenty of reviews and come from a trusted source… this lowers the chance of downloading a malicious program.

7. Don’t keep yourself in the dark. Check your credit on a regular basis. One of the best resources out there is called CreditKarma. This site provides you free access to your credit report and FICO scores. It also updates you when suspicious activity appears on your account. Just be careful not to sign up for all the credit card offers they present to you in exchange for the free service.

You can learn the full details behind these “seven deadly sins” of the digital commerce age, for free, right here.