What Is the Best Way to Dispose of Old Credit Cards to Avoid Identity Theft?

By , CardRatings contributor
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Question:  What is the best way to dispose of old credit cards to avoid identity theft and credit card fruad?

Answer:  As rates of identity theft continue to increase, it's important you take the time to protect your sensitive financial information. This includes taking the time to dispose of old or expired credit cards effectively. There are two important parts to a credit card--the information contained in the magnetic strip on the back of the credit card and the information on the front of the card.

Step 1: Disable Magnetic Strip

The easiest way to disable the magnetic strip is to run a magnet across the strip. This should disable the data contained in the strip. You can also take scissors and score the strip to make it unreadable.

Step 2: Destroy Smart Chips/RFIDs

Some credit cards contain smart chips/RFIDs. If your card has a smart chip, you can smash it with a hammer prior to destroying the card.

Step 3: Destroy the Card

The next step is destroying the card. While some people like to burn their cards, another effective method is to cut the card into pieces. Some shredders have the ability to shred credit cards, but a standard pair of scissors should work just fine. The key is to cut your card strategically. This means cutting across the numbers and name information of the front of the card, cutting through the magnetic strip, and cutting through your signature and CVV number on the back of the card.

Step 4: Dispose of the Card

It's not enough to cut up your card and throw it in the trash. Savvy thieves can piece your card together. Use separate trash cans to dispose of your card. You may even want to throw out half of it one week and the second half the following week.

When disposing of old credit cards, take the time to do it properly--your identity, banking, and credit card information will thank you.


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