I am one of approximately 110,000,000 people in the US “Targeted” this Christmas season. That is, hackers installed malware and were able to get card information and more personal information such as addresses and such. Anyone who shopped at Target roughly between November 15 and December 15 was violated the same way unless they paid cash.
This isn’t the first time its happened to me. Years ago, BJ’s Warehouse was hit and then more recently, the chain that owns TJ Max, Marshalls and Home Goods was hit. Both made me leery of those particular stores for awhile but I gradually came back.
It feels different this time. The fact that I’m one of so many makes it worse not better. We’ve also heard that customers at Neiman Marcus were “Marked” as well. Large companies are not the ones I expect to have insufficient security on their systems. I hold them responsible. I have heard that there are class action suits filed already and I wish them well. Its not that Target hasn’t tried to make amends. They had discount days, they’ve offered account protection services, lots of emails and website postings have appeared. Everything short of the CEO calling me to apologize has been tried.
I feel very vulnerable. One swipe of a credit or debit card to make any purchase puts my whole identity at risk. Anywhere possible, I’ve been using cash since this happened. I have found two pluses from using cash. One, there are less receipts that I need to enter in Quicken to balance my checkbook (yeah, I still do that). And, two, I spend less because I’m aware of how much money is in my wallet. There are far less impulse buys or purchase of things that I “will” need. For now, I’m content to get them when they’re really needed.
Maybe the US will change credit cards to be more like the EU with the digital chips encoded in them. Of course, by then hackers may have figured a way around those, too.
In the meantime, there’s a dichotomy between businesses and government who want us to do everything online and a nation that can’t protect us when we do.
I may be the only one in America who was shaken by this security breach. I may, in time, break down and go back to trusting my cards. Maybe I’ll even go back to Target (someone pointed out that they may be the safest place to shop at this point). But for now, my greenbacks and I are making do.