Safe Use of Credit Cards

Many small businesses rely on credit cards for making regular purchases because they're easy to use and may replace the need to keep cash on hand. Along with these benefits, however, credit cards come with risks. Here are some guidelines for using business credit cards safely.

Physically Protecting Your Credit Cards

  1. Only keep as many cards open as your business needs and carry as few as possible.
  2. Keep seldom used cards in a safe place.
  3. Keep a list of all credit card numbers and issuing companies' phone numbers in a secure place.
  4. If you are expecting a new or re-issued credit card and do not receive it, contact the issuing company immediately.
  5. Make sure new cards are activated and signed immediately after they're received.

Protecting Your Personal and Business Information

  1. Never write PIN numbers on cards.
  2. Never give credit card information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  3. If a credit card statement does not arrive as expected, contact the issuing company to make sure that someone else did not change the mailing address so that they receive the statements.
  4. Sign your cards. Showing your ID gives other people access to your personal information.

Properly Disposing of Old Credit Cards

  1. Cut the card into four or more pieces and make sure you cut through the signature and the magnetic strip on the back.
  2. Run a magnet over the magnetic strip, and if the card contains a chip, use scissors or a hammer to destroy it.
  3. Throw the pieces away in separate trash bags.

Preventing Unauthorized Use of Credit Cards

  1. Only have cards issued to employees that absolutely need them and make sure card limits are set appropriately.
  2. Always total the receipt and draw lines through unused spaces.
  3. Never sign a blank charge slip.
  4. Make sure all credit card receipts are kept.
  5. Compare receipts to account statements.
  6. Use a card that has a relatively low limit for routine spending. If the limit on the card is $1,000, for example, thieves can only spend up to $1,000.
  7. Use one card for online purchases. While you should always check your credit card statements for accuracy, this allows you to pay special attention to the statement for that card.

In Case of Problems

  1. If a credit card is lost, contact the issuing company immediately.
  2. If you believe a card was stolen, contact the police and issuing company immediately.

Most credit card companies have a toll-free number for reporting stolen or missing cards and many provide 24-hour service.