Here is a way to protect your money and data from retail chain hacks

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 26, 2014

News of so-called retail chain hacks fill the Internet every week nowadays it seems. If you are an Internet user, you have probably grown accustomed to reading news about online hacks that resulted in user data getting into the wrong hands.

Hacks targeting retail stores and chains on the other hand did not make the news that frequently before, but all of that changed when news broke that the hack of Target has resulted in the theft of up to 110 million customer data sets including credit card numbers.

Target is not the only retail company that has been hacked recently. News broke today that craft store Michaels may also have been hacked shortly after it became known that Neiman Marcus was also hacked.

Affected customers have been advised to monitor credit card statements carefully, and many even got a new credit card number in the process to avoid misuse from happening.

So how could you have protected yourself -- your money and data -- from being hacked in first place? Easy: Pay cash whenever you buy in local stores, and never reveal information when you are asked to.

The wonderful thing about cash is that companies do not need to store any data about your purchase when they accept it. If you pay using a credit card, the card number, expiration date, and maybe even the security code get saved alongside other information linked to that card.

While it may be convenient to pay using a card, it is also making it necessary that retailers store the card information. And just like it is the case on the Internet, you do not really know how well those information are protected.

Besides information that are directly related to the purchase, stores may also store other information about you, if you tell them. Information such as your email address or zip code may also be stored if you answer questions asked when you are making a purchase locally.

Paying cash is as anonymous as it gets on the other hand. You make the purchase and that is about it. No information that can be linked to you is recorded, which also means that hacks won't affect you.

A side-effect of this is that it does give you more control over money as well. The change of overspending is a lot higher if you are using cards for making payments. With cash money, you can only spend as much as you have on you.

Now read: Who in their right mind would want a cashless society?


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  1. Harry said on January 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Abine MaskMe protects cards for online purchases with a disposable number.

  2. Mike J said on January 27, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    So where do you get cash?? Aren’t you counting on an ATM’s security, or even via teller, a bank’s or CU??

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 27, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      ATM or bank directly.

  3. ilev said on January 27, 2014 at 7:28 am

    According to the FBI there were 20 incidents of POS hacking last year.

    FBI reportedly discovered about 20 hacking cases in the past year that involved the same kind of malicious software used against Target.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 27, 2014 at 8:00 am

      That’s a lot.

  4. TheRube said on January 27, 2014 at 2:43 am

    Mr. Brinkmann . . . You Think Exactly as I do!

    For years I have always espoused the use of CASH when going to a brick & Mortar retailer.
    (I learned this lesson in 2003 or thereabouts when an employee at a well-known Big-Box store here in New York City took MY card’s information and opened up an AOL account!).
    I was not only incensed because I was violated like this BUT I NEVER EVER Wanted an AOL account; never downloaded the software due to the dubious reputation of said company – – especially at that particular time)
    Initially, It was HELL to get AOL to reverse the charges but with heavy persistence they finally did.

    I use my card for Online purchases ONLY (I feel that this route is safer as I know what to look for to make sure a website’s page is “Secure” though Nothing is 100% safe nowadays)
    So Yes, as long as the government permits it . . . CASH will always be the way to GO when making a non-Online purchase(s).
    I too don’t care What kind of payment I have to make!!!

  5. BMO said on January 26, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I hate when store cashiers ask me for personal information, like phone numbers and area codes. And then they don’t even know why they are asking for it, and get offended when I ask them why they need it. School bookstores are particularly fond of asking for social security numbers. It’s almost as if because of the whole social networking thing’s popularity, people have gotten used to having no privacy with their personal information, divulging security-sensitive information like phone numbers and SSNs as one may share a liked post on Ghacks.

    So then we (privacy minded individuals) get treated as aluminum foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists because we don’t join the cloud, or use credit cards, or share personal information. It’s a shame really. If anything, now more than any time in history we need to be as anonymous as possible, simply due to technologies development into an almost omnipotent entity, that knows everything about us, that can be used by hackers and of course our loving NSA to find out anything about us, and to be used against us at their leisure.

    Also using cash is nice because after awhile you can roll your coins up and turn them in for a little cash bonus. And you cant flash a card like you can cash. You can’t slush a guy with a discover card. You can’t tip a stripper with a debit card.

    There are many benefits to cash. I very much hope they never do away with it.

  6. Gonzo said on January 26, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    There are times when a credit card is needed (not enough cash on hand or a large purchase). In this case I NEVER use a debit card. With a credit card the bank is responsible. With a debit card, you’re on your own (at least in the states).

    1. Lee said on January 28, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      For the record, the Bank of America debit card reimburses you for fraudulent card transactions up to the amount of the loss, when reported within 60 days from the statement date and your account is credited as soon as the next business day. (Note: I don’t work for BoA; just a customer.)

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 26, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      I always pay cash, no matter the payment.

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