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Ask Sid

Disposing of That Old Credit Card

It's not enough to cut an old credit card in half, demagnetize it too

Q. What's the best way to destroy an old credit card to prevent identity theft?

A. Not a simple cut-in-half and toss. A trash-sifting identity thief can piece things together to get a usable card, or at least name, account number, signature and security code. That can be enough to charge something in your name or call the card's issuer, pretending to be you, and ask for a replacement.

So whether you have an expired card for an existing account or a card received but never requested, disable the magnetic strip by cutting it lengthwise or running a magnet along it. Then cut the card into small pieces to make all the above-mentioned info unreadable. For maximum protection, discard different pieces on successive trash pickup days.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues. Have a question for Sid Kirchheimer about a new product, a new kind of bank account? Check out the Ask Sid archive. If you don’t find your answer there, send a query.

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