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We Americans love our credit cards for their convenience. We use them to get ready cash. We doníªt have to carry money with us. Returning items is much easier. We have a great record of what we have used our money for. It is much easier to write a check for one billing instead of the many different payments. Moreover, perhaps best of all we can buy when we do not actually have the money, or is that good?

It may not be so good when we overspend because of the freedom the íºcardí¿ gives us. We will probably buy in impulse more often because it is easier than shopping for better prices. Nevertheless the usefulness of these pieces of plastic far outweighs the negative aspects and I know they are here to stay. And because of this we should prudently consider how to take care for our cards and protect ourselves.

äh Think carefully before giving credit card numbers out over the phone.
äh Know the number of cards you are carrying. Doníªt be careless with them, one here, and one there or where? Put them in a íºcertain íº area of your wallet or purse, so you will always know where to find them.
äh When traveling use only the cards you will need, make sure the cards left are in a very safe place.
äh A new card mailed to you should be in tact. If the envelope has been opened then let your creditor know immediately.

A good idea is to document the names and account numbers of your credit cards just in case you lose one of them. Keep this record in a safe place. You will need:

The name of the card
Account number
The name of each person or family member who has a credit card.
In order to report lost or stolen, you will need the telephone number of the creditor.
Date of expiration.

If you should lose your card:
Call the company with the information you have recorded.
Get the name and date of the person you talked to.
Send a return receipt requested letter with the same information you related per telephone.
When the company gets the information that your card is lost, you are no longer held responsible for any charges you have not made.
File all information.