Checking monthly statements key defense against credit card hacks

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We use our credit cards and debit cards for so many transactions at so many places. I often hear people tell me they won’t shop online for fear of having their card number stolen. But we don’t think about how our numbers can be compromised at a physical place of business.

In just one example, The Kansas City Star  reports Snow Creek Ski Resort in Missouri was a recent target of a security breach. Many people who used a card to buy lift tickets at the resort recently may have had their number stolen.

Customers first started noticing something was wrong when they had all kinds of oddball charges appearing on their accounts. The ski resort didn’t do anything wrong, and there’s no feeling that it was an inside job. Apparently the whole thing stems from a virus that hackers put in the system. In the wake of the breach, Snow Creek even put out an alert to customers telling them that paying cash would be the safest option.

This incident really highlights the fact that there’s a new bonanza in crooks trying to crack databases at businesses to get multiple account numbers, instead of just focusing on targeting you as an individual.

Where do you fit in all this? The most important thing to be aware of is how many people don’t look over their statements. You will lose money if you don’t notice on a timely basis that there are fraudulent charges on your account.

But as a larger issue, our credit card system simply is not as secure as it could be if we adopted the smart chip system.

The rest of the world is using the smart chip system, which makes a credit card much harder to crack because a crook would need to be in physical possession of your card to use it. Unfortunately, we’re still using 1960s magnetic strip technology here at home from back when there were no computers in daily life and no Internet.

So the responsibility falls back on you to check your statements. And the whole discussion also points out the dangers of using a debit card, where your money vanishes and you could be instantly bouncing checks all over town. At least with a credit card, no money ever leaves your hands, only a bill shows up that you have to dispute.