Credit Card Safety is your Number on that Receipt

If you drop or toss a sales receipt, are you inviting identity theft or credit card fraud? Will you suddenly see unknown charges on your credit card statement? How can you keep your credit safe?


First, a smart consumer will always proofread the receipt before leaving the store. Items may be double-scanned, and in-store fraud may certainly occur. This is simpler to prove and correct while you still have all the items you actually purchased with you. If you spot an error, go directly to customer service. Do not pass EXIT, and do not load your car until the problem has been corrected.


Thieves can grab unattended shopping bags and return merchandise for cash or credit. Worse, they may lift your credit information (and your signature) from the receipt and charge additional items. When you make a purchase, ask the cashier for your receipt. Tuck it into your wallet or purse for safekeeping. (BONUS: If you need to return anything, you will know exactly where to find the receipt!)

AIM FOR AUTOMATED SWIPERS (Target, WalMart, Kmart, Kohls, etc.)

If checkout lines are equipped with automated credit-card scanners, you need not worry about your numbers being stolen. Because you swipe your own card, you retain control of it, so you are less vulnerable fall victim to card-swapping at the checkout.

Also, receipts from these up-to-date vendors tend to omit or encode credit card information, so these are usually pretty safe too.


If you use your credit card to pay your dining check, be sure to grab your card before leaving. (Check the card, in case you have received the wrong one. It happens!) Instead of leaving your signed charge slip on the table, where anyone might see it, why not hand it to your server as you head for the door?


Again, these usually encode information, and consumers swipe their own cards, so these tend to be safe. However, it is possible for hackers to access card numbers. (You can track gas purchases, and check your credit statements regularly, to spot any unauthorized activity on your account.)

Do not toss the gas receipts in the trash cans that are placed next to the pumps. (The same rule applies at the car wash.) Instead, tear receipts up and toss them elsewhere.


Paper receipts should be kept in a secure place or destroyed before discarding them. Most retailers do encode credit information. Some include only the last four digits and expiration date on the printout. These are significantly safer, but caution may still be warranted.


Old-fashioned carbon credit slips are a thief’s delight. If you must sign these, be sure to retain your copy and all carbon slips. Retailers used to toss the carbons in the trash, with credit information still intact for any who wished to retrieve them.


If you must toss your receipts, shred them first. Tear them into pieces, and place the pieces in a variety of trash cans. Or burn them.

Don’t fall victim to receipt rip-off! Be a savvy shopper! Review receipts carefully, and be cautious about tossing them.