Credit card theft. Identity theft. Paper cuts. The world is a scary and dangerous place, isn't it? Well, you can make life a lot easier by being on the lookout for scams and pitfalls. Here are a few tips on how to manage your credit cards and avoid being the victim of identity theft:

  • Photocopy the contents of your wallet. Every few months, dump all of your credit cards and other important cards onto a photocopier and record their fronts and backs. Save these papers in a safe place (in case your wallet is ever stolen or just lost).

  • Carry the bare minimum when it comes to cards. Why have more cards than you need on you for a thief to steal?

  • Check your credit report occasionally for any signs of mischief. (We offer an easy way to do so -- getting all three reports in one at a discounted price.)

  • Don't have your Social Security number printed on your checks. Only reveal your number on a need-to-know basis.

  • Take that receipt! By leaving receipts on store counters or elsewhere, you may be relinquishing them to a scoundrel who can glean information from them and proceed to make your life miserable.

  • Pay attention to your credit card statements. You don't want to one day say, "Hey, I don't think I've gotten a statement in several months!" That could mean that someone has changed your address or is swiping your mail. (Consider getting a mailbox that locks.) Make sure the charges on the statement are accurate. If you see charges you never made, contact the company that issued the credit card.

  • Shred credit card solicitations and any other documents you want to discard that contain valuable personal information. (You can get off mailing lists and receive fewer credit solicitations, too.)

  • Don't use a credit card to buy things online unless you're sure that you're dealing with a reputable vendor and that the transaction page is secure. In Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Explorer browser, for example, look for a closed padlock in the lower-right-hand corner.

Our Credit Center offers more guidance, including additional tips on how to avoid identity theft and dig out from credit card debt.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Microsoft and several credit cards.