Banking cards with microchip technology are designed to protect against fraudulent duplication of magnetic strip cards. However, they do not solve all potential problems confronting consumers. It still pays to be cautious with your credit card information.
Unfortunately, as security measures increase, criminals find new ways to steal information. Chip cards can be read over a short distance using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. With the right equipment, a criminal could steal your data while standing next to you, without your knowledge. For that reason, consider using a protective sleeve or RFID-blocking wallet.
Although chip cards – whether used with a PIN or signature – help reduce some security threats, online and phone purchases with stolen card information remain an issue for the consumer. Continue to take the same security precautions with chipped cards that should be taken with magnetic strip cards:
Shop only on secured sites – look for the https in the address line
Guard your card information closely
Check statements for suspicious activity
Think twice before giving your information over the phone; make sure you’re talking to a legitimate merchant representative
Consider alternative payment methods, such as having merchandise delivered to a store where you can pay in person
Carry your cards separately from your wallet. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. And carry only the card you need for that outing.
During a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.
Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.
Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.
Don’t write your account number on the outside of an envelope.
Continue to stay overly protective of your credit card information. It is still vulnerable.
Most of us understand the importance of preparing our vehicles for winter ? making sure tires are in good shape, wipers are good, brakes properly serviced and snow scraper in the car. We diligently address the mechanics in anticipation of expected winter extremes.
But it’s just as important to prepare ourselves for winter driving. We must be ready to adjust our habits to better face the unpredictable challenges that often come with winter driving. Please consider the following tips before driving during inclement weather:
Conduct a pre-trip check. These are extremely important during the winter. Get into the habit of making sure windows and mirrors are clean and wipers are cleared before you start out. Clean all lights; make sure your heater and defroster are working properly. Carry an extra jug of windshield washer fluid.
Carry a blanket and/or extra clothing in your vehicle. Pack a water bottle and some high energy food bars in case you become stranded. Always ensure that your cell phone is fully charged prior to heading out.
Give yourself plenty of time. A 30-minute trip in good weather conditions may require double or triple that time in poor conditions. Warm up your vehicle so that windows are clear and you’re not looking through an “ice tunnel” in the windshield.
Have an exit plan. If conditions become hazardous, get off the road at the nearest exit, gas station or other safe place and wait out the storm. Let someone know where you are.
Be prepared to be stranded. In most cases, it’s better to stay with your vehicle. Keep a window cracked for ventilation, and make sure the exhaust system is clear of snow. Ration fuel if faced with the prospect of a long wait for rescue.
Beware of “snow hypnosis.” Driving and continuing to stare into onrushing snowflakes can cause a state described as the “1,000-yard stare,” when the eyes become unfocused and mental alertness wanes.
Take it easy! If your mind and body are telling you it feels safe at 40 mph, drive at 35 mph. Drive 5 mph below what you think or feel is safe.
Make gradual directional and lane changes. Signal well in advance, then slowly complete the maneuver. Extend the distance interval between yourself and the vehicle in front of you; it takes longer to stop in sloppy weather.
Pay heed to road conditions.Remember, condensation freezes on bridges, overpasses and shaded areas before the rest of the roadway. Avoid lane changes in these areas as well as in intersection zones.
Know your brakes! Antilock (ABS) brakes respond and feel different than standard brakes. If you begin to skid, release the accelerator, and steer in the direction you want to go. Do everything gently and turn the steering wheel as little as possible.
Avoid using cruise control where the roads might be slick. Cruise control can apply power suddenly or at the wrong time causing a skid or making a minor skid uncontrollable. If cruise is on and you think the road might be slick, use the hand-operated controls to turn it off; tapping the brakes can initiate a skid.