Q&A: ‘Stay at home’ credit card isn’t foolproof

Dear Liz: Regarding updating automatic payments when a credit card is replaced, I have found that using a separate credit card that never leaves home for automatic payments is a good idea. It’s very unlikely that this “stay at home” card would get hacked like a card I use in stores or ATMs. Does this seem like a good idea?

Answer: The security advantage of hiding a card at home is “pretty minimal, and approaching zero,” said Bob Sullivan, consumer security expert at BobSullivan.net and author of the book “Stop Getting Ripped Off.”

Any credit card can be hacked, as numerous database breaches have shown us. Once you use the card — with a merchant, at an ATM, on the Web or over the phone — you have no control of where its numbers are stored or how secure those databases are.

“The risk that it’s stolen from a database of cards outweighs the risk that a waiter or a compromised machine might steal it,” Sullivan said.

It may be more convenient to monitor automatic payments if they’re all on one card. But if the card is hacked, you’ll still have to reset all those payments.

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