Clark Howard

Is It Safe To Write My Account Number on My Credit Card Payment?

Most of us pay our bills, such as credit cards, electronically. But some people still get their bills sent to their home and mail back a check as payment.

Money expert Clark Howard says your credit card statement is the one bill you should prioritize getting sent to your home via paper copy. But sending your entire credit card number in the mail sounds like a terrible idea.

What should you do if your credit card issuer demands that practice?

Should I Avoid Writing My Entire Account Number When I Send My Credit Card Payment?

My credit card issuer wants me to include my entire account number on my check when I mail in my payment. What should I do?

That’s what a listener recently asked Clark Howard.

Asked Robert in Indiana: "Each month our Visa credit card statement requests that we return our payment with our entire account number written on our check. However, when they send the bill it only has the last 4 digits of our account on it.

"Doesn't this make IDENTITY THEFT easier for criminals that steal the mail? Do you write your entire account number when paying your bill?"

Do not comply with this request, Clark says. Just list the last four digits of your credit card — the same way your credit card issuer does on your statement.

“This is lunacy. The very bank that’s sending you the bill only lists the last four of the credit card,” Clark says.

“And then they want you to write all 16 digits down there and say to a criminal, ‘Hey, this is a great day for you. You’ve got a checking account, routing numbers, transit numbers. And wait! There’s more! You’ve got the information you need to duplicate our credit card and buy things with it.'”

Avoid Sending Checks To Be Even Safer

Don't send checks in the mail, Clark says. If you do, you are providing criminals with easy access to your money.

Even if you’re getting paper statements for your credit card, which Clark suggests, he’d still like for you to pay online via ACH.

"Please don't send checks anymore. There's such a security problem with payments being stolen in the mail. And when a criminal gets a copy of your check, they've got everything they need to empty your checking account," Clark says.

“[ACH] will never be able to be intercepted through the mail. You’ll never have to worry that your payment got lost or stolen in the mail. And you’ll know your payment was made on time right then and there at the credit card company’s own website. You eliminate a world of hurt and problems if you pay that way.”

Final Thoughts

Make your credit card payments online if at all possible, Clark says. You can still get a paper statement sent to your home. But sending checks in the mail makes you a target for criminals. Plus, if the check gets lost or stolen, you could accidentally miss a payment.

Also, avoid writing out your entire 16-digit account number and sending it with your credit card payment.

Instead, pay online. And if you insist on paying via regular physical mail, only include the last four digits of your card.

The post Is It Safe To Write My Account Number on My Credit Card Payment? appeared first on Clark Howard.

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