Credit cards are a vital part of everyday lives: People use them to make purchases online, book hotels for vacations and buy things from retailers. Unfortunately, credit card fraud is on the rise.
Nearly one in three global consumers has been victimized by card fraud in the past five years, according to 2016 data released by Aite Group, an independent research and advisory firm focused on the financial services industry. One way to help bring down this statistic is to safely and securely destroy old or unwanted credit cards.
You can safely dispose of old credit cards in a variety of ways: with a pair of scissors, a shredder and even a magnet. Learn how to get rid of your unwanted credit cards the right way to keep your account safe from fraud.
When to Destroy a Credit Card
The main reason to destroy old credit cards is to protect your identity and keep thieves from racking up fraudulent charges on them. It’s time to demolish your card when:
- It has expired, and you’ve been mailed a new one.
- The store associated with the old credit card has gone out of business.
- You’ve closed your account.
- Your card had a fraudulent charge on it, and the issuer is mailing you a new one.
How to Destroy a Traditional Credit Card
You have a few options for disposing of your credit cards. If you have a traditional plastic card without an EMV chip, use one of these methods:
- Cut the card up into tiny pieces with scissors: Orange County’s Credit Union recommends making both horizontal and vertical cuts and making sure you cut through your signature and the magnetic stripe, which contains your personal information.
- Use a credit card shredder: First, make sure the shredder can destroy plastic, not just paper. Also, look for a setting that will enable you to shred the card in a crisscross fashion — some shredders even have a designated credit card option.
- Demagnetize the magnetic strip: Use a strong magnet to demagnetize the strip on your card. Once the magnetic field erases your information, you’ll need to follow up by cutting the card or shredding it to conceal the account number.
Whichever method you choose, toss the credit card pieces in separate trash bags. A determined scammer might be able to piece your credit card back together to get your information.
How to Destroy Metal Credit Cards
Some companies add a metal inlay to their credit cards, which makes destroying them difficult. Try attaching a metal-cutting head to a power tool and grind the card into tiny pieces. If you choose this method, make sure you follow all safety precautions and wear a pair of protective goggles.
How to Destroy an EMV Chip Credit Card
Your account number and personal data are stored in your credit card’s chip, so you must properly destroy it as well as the magnetic strip and account number. Follow the same steps as you would with a traditional card but pay special attention to the chip. Either remove it and cut it up or smash it with a hammer.
The Wrong Ways to Destroy a Credit Card
A few ways that some people use to destroy their credit cards end up causing more harm than good. Avoid these methods:
- Do not burn it: Carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals will be released from the credit card as it melts, and the fumes are unhealthy.
- Keep it away from your child: Although your little one might enjoy playing with your credit card, he might lose it — and you don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands.
- Don’t cut it in half: Any thief can put two pieces of a credit card together to retrieve your name, account number, expiration date and CVV security code. That information is all he needs to begin placing online orders that will be charged to you.
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