13 November 2014

Credit Card Security Breaches: Will This Be Your Worst Holiday Season Ever?

The holiday season is coming, and retailers are eagerly (and maybe anxiously!) preparing for your business. But should they get it? Depending on how you’re paying, the answer may be no. Let me explain:

Millions of retailers have a security weakness that can put some grinch in your gift-giving merriment: they’re not prepared to securely handle your personal and financial information.

This isn’t news to most of us—credit card breaches have painted the news, with implications in the millions at retailers like Target, Home Depot, and Walgreens, just to name a few. But what happens when stolen identities, fraud, frozen bank accounts, lost time, and criminal investigation affect you?

  • Imagine waiting in line to spend evenings at your bank trying to explain that you have no idea who made those several-hundred or thousand-dollar purchase in your name.
  • Imagine spending several hours each night on the phone with credit card companies, getting bounced from person to person, repeating the same story over and over, instead of spending time how you want to this holiday season.
  • Imagine finding out you don’t have access to your bank accounts—or worse, your accounts are empty—because someone in a different country decided to spend thousands of dollars on gifts you’ll never see.

That’s enough to put a “Bah Humbug!” in anyone’s vocabulary. And when you buy through companies who record your phone calls, you’re putting yourself at risk.

How can you protect yourself from credit card breaches?

  1. If your phone-based purchase is being recorded, ask yourself what’s happening to that recording. And then, more importantly, ask the retailer. Here’s what you need to know: Companies are forbidden by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to retain authentication data in any format, but also from storing sensitive data, including card validation codes and values, even if they are encrypted. Protect+ by Callcap redacts your card information to provide a safer transaction for you. If the company can’t tell you this, then don’t spend your money there—choose a retailer who is serious about your security.
  2. In stores, pay in cash instead of using credit and debit cards when possible. If you’re using cards, find out if your card is enabled with chip and signature technology, which encodes information differently for every transaction. From creditcardforum.com,

    “This technology makes it harder for thieves to use the data they steal) and are tougher to clone — although they won’t protect you much until retailers start investing in terminals that accept smart chip technology.”

  3. Take a few minutes to setup real-time text alerts and notifications that inform you of transactions on your cards so you’ll have near instant notification if a suspicious purchase appears.
  4. Pay attention to your bank accounts. Monitor them and immediately report anything that seems amiss.
  5. Join the nearly half of consumers who refuse to shop at retailers who don’t keep their information safe.

With companies forecasting losses in the billions due to breaches, how you spend your dollars matters. 45% (and growing) of credit and debit cardholders say they definitely or probably won’t shop at retailers where their personal information is at risk. This legion of consumers has the spending power to ensure retailers take care of their customers by implementing compliance measures.

Find out more about why PCI compliance is something you should insist on. If you’re a business owner who’s looking to take care of your customers and make sure you don’t lose out on the estimated $800 per person consumers are expected to spend this holiday season, contact us today.