BBB Offers Tips to Protect Credit and Debit Cards

The Better Business Bureau gives advice on how to protect credit and debit cards from identity theft. More than 11 million id thefts occurred last year.

Raleigh, NC, April 15, 2010 --( More than 11 Million ID Theft Victims Reported in 2009

As part of an initiative to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft, BBB serving Eastern North Carolina ( offers seven ways consumers can protect their credit and debit cards.

1. Only Carry The Cards You Need.
Only carry the essential cards that you need every day. Many consumers carry every credit/debit card they have, yet few of these cards get daily use. The risk of a lost or stolen card is reduced if unused cards are left at home.

2. Cancel Unused Cards.
Consumers with one or more unused credit cards should consider canceling the by contacting the issuing financial institution in writing. Once canceled, the consumer should cut the card(s) into small strips or shred before disposing.

3. Do Not Write Personal Identification Numbers on the Back of Credit/Debit Cards.
Consumers should never write their personal identification number on the back of their credit or debit card. Also, BBB recommends that consumers never write the PIN on a sheet of paper and carry it in a wallet or purse.

4. Write “Check Photo ID” on the Back of All Cards.
Instead of signing the back of a credit/debit card, write "check photo id" in the signature block. Many banks now issue credit/debit cards that display a consumer’s photograph on the front. If this is an available option, BBB recommends taking advantage of this opportunity. Both of these practices make it more difficult for a thief to use your card in person.

5. Check Credit Card Bills and Bank Statements Carefully Every Month.
Consumers should check their credit card bills and bank statements carefully every month, looking for activity that is not recognized. Many banks now offer online banking services, allowing consumers to check transactions even more frequently. The quicker a problem is recognized, the more the damage can be limited.

6. Make Copies of All Credit/Debit Cards.
Consumers should make copies of the front and back of all of their credit and debit cards, and then place the copies in a secure location. If cards are stolen or lost, consumers will have all the relevant information that they need to contact the card issuers and report the lost or stolen items. This will also help limit the damage.

7. Remain Wary of “Pre-Approved Credit” Offers.
A good deal of stolen personal information comes from "pre-approved credit" offers consumers receive in the mail, and then discard unopened. This allows a thief to use the application to apply for credit in the consumer’s name. The three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) offer a single telephone number through which consumers can opt out of future "pre-approved credit" offers. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) for more information.

“Consumers should be aware that, as convenient as they are, credit and debit cards can pose a serious risk if lost or stolen,” says Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “Taking simple steps to protect themselves can reduce these risks.”

To further the fight against identity theft, BBB is hosting "Secure Your ID" Day on April 17, 2010. The local shredding event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the parking lot of Coastal Federal Credit Union, located off Wake Forest Road at 1000 St. Albans Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609.

Participants are encouraged to bring up to three boxes or bags of documents that have been removed from binders. At the event, BBB and other partner organizations will provide tips and resources to help consumers protect their identity. Event information is available at

For more trustworthy information on preventing ID theft, as well as BBB advice on what to do if your identity is stolen, go to

About BBB serving Eastern North Carolina:
Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is a 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in Eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 2,900 local businesses and professional firms. BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by BBB include reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, dispute resolution services, and consumer/business education programs. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit

Media Contacts:
Brian Van Norman
(919) 232-5008
Beverly Baskin
(919) 277-4202

Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina
Brian Van Norman