Carrying credit cards used to be considered a safer way to shop than having a wallet full of cash, but recent security breaches at big-name retailers have even the most cautious shoppers feeling wary.
A report by the Department of Homeland Security released in August warned consumers that more than 1,000 retailers could have malware (software used by hackers to gather sensitive information) in their cash register computers.
Experts offer a variety of suggestions for consumers to help safeguard their financial information when shopping:
- Use Cash – It may not be convenient all the time, but cash offers a quick, secure way to pay.
- Sign Instead of PIN – Whether a cashier is swiping your card, or you are using a self-checkout machine, choose the Pay By Credit option and sign for your purchase, rather than using your PIN.
- Monitor Your Statements – Check your statements regularly for any activity that wasn’t authorized by you – even small amounts. Thieves often test your card with one or more small, insignificant charges to see if you are monitoring your accounts, then will make a large purchase after they have secured access.
- Monitor Your Credit – Consumers are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major reporting bureaus – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Take advantage of this opportunity to check for any inquiries made or accounts opened that you did not authorize, and report the activity immediately.
- Use Alternative Payment Methods – PayPal and Appleware allow consumers to pay for goods and services at participating retailers without having to carry cash or credit cards with them. While the systems are not accepted everywhere, more than 900 retailers have now signed on with PayPal, including Best Buy, Sears, Barnes & Noble, and The Home Depot, to name a few.
Similar guidelines apply to online purchases, as well. Experts advise to use only known, secure hosting sites, and to be sure that “https” – with a locked icon – appear in the navigation bar before you enter personal or credit card information.
Active adults often are targeted for such scams, but we’ve found that Windsong homebuyers to be a tech-savvy bunch, researching floor plans and communities online before visiting our communities and choosing their homes. Once they move into their new homes, our buyers don’t hesitate to share information that will help their neighbors and friends stay in-the-know.
Welcome home to Windsong – Where Life’s A Breeze!