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The Resource Center Credit Fraud & Credit Monitoring | article

Your Credit Card Receipts May Be at the Top of an Identity Thief’s Christmas List

Before 2006, the credit card receipts that you received when conducting your holiday shopping said altogether too much about you, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Displayed in plain sight on the slip was your name, the card's expiration date and the entirety of your card number right above your signature. If a credit card thief had gotten a hold of one of these slips, they could have used it to do holiday shopping of their own.

It became law after 2006 that credit card slips conceal some of this information. Instead of showing your entire 16-digit credit card number on your receipt, only the last four digits are displayed. However, your card's expiration date and, should you sign the customer copy of the slip, your signature are still in plain sight. Even these numbers are enough for a skilled identity thief to potentially access your credit account, which could then compromise your personal identification information (PII) and eventually lead to this criminal ruining your credit score.

They'll be hoping that you keep your slips with your purchases, so store them in your wallet
When you go shopping, make sure that all receipts given to you by the cashier stay on your person and not in your merchandise bag. There is too big a risk that the slip could fall out of your bag and onto a crowded mall floor if you just have the cashier stuff it in with your presents. Identity thieves target malls, and this is exactly the scenario they hope for.

If a thief gets your manually-swiped credit card slip, you may have made their Christmas
Although your entire 16-digit credit card number isn't displayed on receipts from digital card readers, many commercial establishments keep older, manual readers on hand as backup. In the event that the computerized system goes down, these readers will make three copies of the front of your credit card on a series of carbon papers that all feature your signature. Should the cashier tell you the system's down, avoid at all costs having them swipe your card on an outdated unit, whether that means paying cash or waiting to make your purchase at a later time. These kinds of slips are almost as good as having the card itself for an identity thief.

Using your credit card is the preferred mode of payment during the holidays because it is much easier to recuperate from identity fraud when this account is compromised than if a thief gets a hold of your debit card. However, even this method of payment comes with its dangers, and caution is key when you're doing your holiday shopping to prevent identity theft.