Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Don’t Use Debit or Credit Cards this Holiday Season!

At first glance, it might seem like checking accounts and paper checks have become a thing of the past. After all, everyone and their brother carries a debit card these days, and it won’t be too long before even those are supplanted by next-generation technology like the new “Apple pay” and other such smartphone-based payment methods. You might even be tempted to jump on this bandwagon because of the incredible convenience of it, and to be honest, tens of millions of people will. After all, how many people today pay for their lattes with a Starbucks app on their phone? Lots. 

There’s a dangerous flip side to all this convenience, though, and it’s wreaking havoc with retailers, credit issuers, banks and consumers. Mostly, we hear about major intrusions after the fact, but they really do happen every day, and chances are they’re going to get worse before they get better. It’s a dangerous world we live in where consumers are asked to roll the dice on keeping their information safe, particularly with the holiday shopping season so quickly approaching.

The answer, if it isn’t already obvious, is one of the most proven ways to protect yourself from credit card and debit card fraud, writing a check. There are lots of reasons that you should want to write checks this season when you’re shopping, but paramount to them all is that the chances of a major security breach at one of the big retailers is almost assured. There have, after all, been a number of them already this year, starting with Target over last year’s holiday shopping season. Remember how big a deal that was? Credit cards were replaced by the millions, Target spent millions more making sure the breach wouldn’t happen again, and what happened? Within a few months’ time, Michael’s stores were hit, and now, just a few days ago, Kmart got hit. If anything, these acts should serve as a wakeup call to consumers. Cover your bases this holiday season.

For many, the answer might be elementary. Just make sure that your credit cards have fraud protection. That might at first blush be a great way to cover yourself, but when the credit card companies lose money like that, it costs you money in the long run. It’s much better to avoid having them have to use that guarantee. It will keep life lots less expensive, as costs won’t have to rise to use credit. (The losses from such things are always passed on to the consumer in one way or another.)

Using paper checks this holiday season makes good sense, and when you think about it, it’s really no less convenient than using plastic. It takes less than thirty seconds to make out the check, less if you have it filled out in line before you get to the register, and you can rest easy knowing that you are protected from the credit and debit card fraud that is pretty much going to be a guaranteed part of this upcoming holiday shopping season.

It’s unfortunate that in our society, so much fraud is committed, but as prevalent as it is, we should really be more aware of how to protect ourselves from it. If we consciously make the decision to avoid using credit and debit cards in the major retailers this year, then we’ll effectively thwart the kind of criminal activities that might well be assisting the funding of terrorists, oppressive regimes, and other undesirables the world over! If that’s not a reason to avoid giving hackers the opportunity to steal your money, then I don’t know what is!

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