With hackers and new cyber crook on the rise, it's arguably more important now than ever to ensure thta your credit card information is kept safe. There's the obvious things that you should be doing to protect this crucial data, like logging into your account over secure Internet networks, monitoring your statements for unusual activity and never carrying a credit card outside your wallet.
But new data suggests that simply using your credit card as a payment option could be just as susceptible to a credit card hacking than anything.That's right - according to a recent Verizon security report, it's estimated that only about 29 percent of all retail companies keep up to par with the all-important payment card industry, or PCI, standards. Simply put, these PCI standards are mandatory rules and regulations that all retail outlets must abide by if they are to accept credit cards as a payment option. However, according to the Verizon report, the majority of these outlets fail in staying up with the latest in this regard, only to beef up security measures in the weeks leading up to their PCI inspection. And when PCI standards aren't followed as they should be, there's great potential for a data breach. Flashback to 2013 when 110 million Target customers had their credit card information hacked, a hack that's believed to have occurred because the retail giant ignored several cybersecurity warnings. Another example is in November 2014, when over 50 million Home Depot customers had their information hacked.
The bottom line is that, according to the Verizon report, companies are just simply getting lazy instead of being proactive about keeping their customers' information safe. In fact, the report states that only about one-third of all companies even regularly tested their computer networks for holes that could compromise sensitive customer information in 2014 - and this number is down from what it was at in previous years.
So what can you do as a consumer who pays with credit card at stores? The easiest thing to do would be to pay cash and avoid credit cards altogether. However, that's not always convenient or feasible, and therefore not a realistic option for most consumers. Here are some preventative and proactive measures consumers can take to keep their information safe:
Activate fraud alerts: Many credit card companies have amped up fraud protection alerts to the point where you'll receive a text message if a fishy purchase was made.
Check your statement and credit report: If you catch unauthorized purchases, report them to your credit card company. Failure to do so could result in a large, long credit repair process to fix any damages to your score and finances.
Beware of holiday shopping season: This is deemed to be the worst time of year for data breaches, as instead of ramping up security, retailers put more effort into selling merchandise.
These days it can be argued that you use credit cards somewhat at your own risk. But if you're aware of the risks - and how to protect yourself and your finances - even an inconvenient data breach can be resolved with minimum hassle.
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