As holiday shoppers reel from the recent release of the data of 40 million Target shoppers, the discussion around safe shopping – both online and at store through the use of credit and debit cards – is heating up.
While we weren’t among the 40 million customers that shopped at Target, this doesn’t mean we don’t care about the security of our personal and financial data. And when we’re shopping at a physical store or online, we often take certain – and relatively simple – steps to better protect ourselves and our personal finances.
Buying gift cards
You might think that buying gift cards is something meant for birthdays, holidays, and “thank you” gifts for teachers and co-workers. However, in our family, they’re for more than that. In fact, sometimes we buy gift cards for ourselves.
Why would we buy ourselves gift cards? For secure online shopping of course.
For example, say I want to buy something at Target or Wal-mart, but it’s only offered online. Well, rather than put our credit card information at risk, we can pay cash at the store for a gift card during one of our regular shopping excursions so that we have it on hand for secure shopping at home whenever we need to shop online.
People may not like the inconvenience of cash, but I consider using dollar bills a heck of a lot easier than dealing with the repercussions of identity or other financial data theft. Stopping by the bank branch (not the ATM) to pick up some cash every week or so, isn’t something that puts a big dent in our regular time schedule. However, it’s a nice way to be able to shop worry-free at a variety of stores. While it won’t help us with online shopping, as I mentioned previously, we can use those gift cards – purchased with cash – to do much of our online buying.
Checking accounts regularly
It’s not always possible to avoid online purchases though, so when we do, we tend to check our accounts and account balances soon thereafter. Through reviewing account statements, online account balances, bank accounts, and ensuring that we receive the items ordered in a timely and accurate manner, we help ensure better financial data security.
Not only this, but by balancing our checkbook at least monthly – and often twice a month – we ensure that any debits against our account have cleared and that there aren’t any items showing up in our bank account that should not be there.
And in these ways – while it’s not a perfect defense against security breaches – it at least helps us minimize the chances of financial data falling into the wrong hands.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.