Yesterday we posted steps to take if you’re concerned about Target’s data breach. Many of those steps should be completed regularly to protect yourself from identity theft. It’s a lot of work, though. For that reason, most of us don’t complete them as regularly as we should, if we do at all.
Credit Cards Versus Cash
We are prime targets for this particular data breach. No pun intended. We buy most of our household products from Target because they’re down the street from where we live. Even though we know the risks of credit card fraud and know what we’re supposed to do to protect ourselves, we’re still dragging our feet.
This got us to thinking about what to do going forward. We, as others, believe that cash is king. Our reasons include:
- Cash is finite
- Studies of consumer psychology suggests consumers are more conscious when buying with cash
- Cash transactions don’t incur hidden fees, such as with credit cards
- Cash transactions end at the register, no future credit card interest fees or late fees
- Cash provides leverage to negotiate
- Cash transactions are private transactions
Hackers are Creative
While there are disadvantages with using cash, such as ease of theft, forgery and the requirement to plan and budget (which is actually a good thing), we believe that using cash is better for most people. Security and privacy are not the least of the reasons why.
This risk with Target’s data breach is not just the one or two bits of information hackers can gather with one crime, but the profile they’re able to build of people over time. If your weekly errands include going to Target, the grocery store, Bed Bath & Beyond and a couple of other store while carrying your cell phone in your car with GPS and you occasionally give out your zip code and email address, you’re vulnerable for identity theft.
Ways to make stealing your identity and tracking your habits harder:
- Use cash
- Don’t share your home address, even zip code
- Don’t share your email address
- Don’t let businesses, such as and particularly Target swipe or scan your driver’s license
- Use bank tellers rather than ATMs
- Don’t check-in on Facebook everywhere you go
While adopting these habits doesn’t eliminate risk and this isn’t an exhaustive list, they do reduce risk. Practice caution and be protective of your personal information. By implementing these measures and those we outlined yesterday, you’ll reduce your risk of identity theft.