The liability for hacked debit cards is much greater than the liability for hacked credit cards.
Millions of people have had their personal information compromised by shopping online thanks to ingenious hackers, but those events have had little effect on the online shopping habits of consumers.
A Millionaire Corner survey of affluent investors found that only 10 percent of shoppers would avoid stores that have had their credit card accounts hacked, and 44 percent said they had not changed any of their shopping habits because of the outbreak of retail hacking. Fifty-one percent said they would check their statements more frequently as a result of the hacking incidents.
Steve Weisman, the author of Identity Theft Alert, says online shoppers can protect themselves by making sure they are on secure websites, but that hackers can find their way into any system if they want to.
“I will say it is safer shopping online than going into a store these days,’’ Weisman said in an interview with Millionaire Corner.
”When you look at a retail website, you want to check the URL, and you want to see h-t-t-p-s; that ’s’ is a secure socket locator, which means your data is being encrypted,’’ he said. “If it does not have that, or show a padlock (image), you cannot do it.”
His next tip for online shopping is be careful what kind of card you use to make your purchase.
“Do not use a debit card for retail purchases,’’ Weisman said. “It a credit card is breached, the law says you only have a maximum of $50 or $100 you are responsible for, and most companies won’t even charge you that. With the debit card, if you don’t pick it out you can lose your entire bank account.”
He advises against shopping while working off of someone else’s internet access server. He uses the example of shopping while having your cup of coffee at Starbucks.
“Again, you have to look for the secure encryption when you do that,’’ he said. “When you are at Starbucks, you may think you are on a secure Wi-Fi but it could be from the guy sitting next to you.”
The same holds true for shopping using a smartphone. Because of the size of the screen and the information that is immediately available on the pop-up page, you could have a difficult time knowing you are on a secure site.
“Stick to the apps at the legitimate stores that offer them, but even there hackers are a step ahead of us,’’ Weisman said. “They can have a site that looks legitimate. Update the app when told to do so, and don’t put in any material that is going to harm you. It is also best to keep your security software constantly up-to-date.”
Weisman said Apple’s new iPay system is a “step in the right direction, because it is going to be using biometrics and dual authentication. It is using a thumb print, and I want to see what happens.”
What he wants to see is how many people have their thumb print stolen.
“You can use a piece of scotch tape, put it over the smartphone, then when they put their thumb on it, it will lift the fingerprint (onto the scotch tape) and you can use that,’’ he said.
Going back to the idea of using a debit card to make purchases, Weisman said it is a bad idea every time. He said the only p lace to use a debit card is at an ATM, and even that isn’t always safe.
“(Hackers) have skimmers, which are pieces of thin electronic film, that can be placed over a keypad,’’ Weisman said. “It can pick up your PIN. When are at an ATM, feel around and see if it looks like it has been tampered with. If so, go to another one.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.