Breach My Britches

We’ve talked about this before and people aren’t listening.  Or maybe they are and they don’t care.  After all, it’s their money if they want to give it away.  It just seems that it’s more the Average Joe and Josephine that are being bamboozled.  And just what are we talking about?  Call it what you will from the polite “breach” to the let’s-be-honest-about-this “theft.”  (And you’re probably figuring out that this isn’t going to be one of those breezy, happy go lucky posts today.)

So, here’s the deal.  Now K-Mart has joined Target and Home Depot and Michael’s and even P. F. Chang’s and Dairy Queen having had their charge systems hacked.  And what about all the other stores owned by the same companies?  If K-Mart’s systems have been compromised what about Sears and Lands’ End and Parts Direct?  Is our money in peril at these stores also?

How do we know these attacks are aimed at the little guys, the you’s and me’s of the world?  Look at the targets, like Target.  Not the sort of places Donald Trump patronizes.  Why us?  Because is seems for the good or bad, our demographic doesn’t pay much attention to our money.  We’re funny that way.  We might make sure our 401K is being matched but we willingly hand over our debit and credit card numbers to any retailer – brick and mortar, on-line, or phone.  It might only be a $10 purchase but it’s usually $10 we don’t have in our pockets and pull out a card for payment.  Stop and think about it.  When was the last time you used real money for gas?

So using money might help to fix things.  If there aren’t cards being used then cards’ information can’t be stolen.  But what about virtual stores?  You can’t stuff a $20 bill into a modem.  We used to use things called checks.  We would order something, send in a check for payment, and the store sent us merchandise in return.  Just like with money!  So you had to wait a few extra days but it beats spending days on end trying to convince the good folks at your local bank that you really didn’t go to Barbados last weekend and spend $2,400 on Jet Ski rentals.

If you think you’d like to get in on this new-fangled thing called money you better do it quickly.  It seems a number of banks are considering doing away with, and some actually already have done away with branch offices.  They could soon be no bank to go to get money.  We’ll still have ATMs but they aren’t any more secure than the stores’ money systems.  In fact, banks have already been hacked.  JP Morgan Chase may be the most recent, and affecting 76 million households the largest, but it’s not the first bank to lose our data.  (See list below.)

Where do you shop?  Big box stores, grocery stores, on-line? This year’s retail “winners” in the data breach contest are the thieves who hacked into Home Depot, Target, Supervalu, Neiman Marcus, Michael’s, E-Bay, and K-Mart.  Where do you bank?  There are too many of them that have been lost to thieves to even think about.  And when you think about banking don’t just think about your debit card.  Where are your credit cards issued, processed, and billed?  Who holds your investments?  Do you have retirement funds sitting somewhere?  And who will be next?  Insurance companies or utilities?

A poll taken by the Travelers’ insurance companies in July of this year discovered that only 23 percent of those questioned worry a great deal about identity theft.  Even though the past year has seen at least a half-dozen major news stories on significant data breaches, this number is actually less than those who worried a great deal about identity theft in May of last year (31%).

So come on now.  Join us and join the folding money brigade.  Do you know where your cash is?

Now that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you.

 

(To see our past posts on this topic please enter “Debit” into the search box at the upper right of this screen.  To see the real scary stuff, type in “Bank Data Breach” or “Retail Data Breach” into a search engine, skip the articles and go straight to the comments.  Scary, scary.)

The Top Ten Data Breaches per Bankrate.com (Data from 2013, does not include 2014 incidences.):

Target (affected 40 million card accounts and 70 million customer data for $1.5 billion)
Global Payments, Inc. (1.5 million card accounts for $90 million)
Tricare US Military medical insurance (5 million beneficiaries’ identities stolen)
Citibank (360,000 credit card accounts for $19.4 million)
Sony (100 million users’ identities stolen)
Heartland Payment Services, credit card processor (130 million card accounts for $2.8 billion)
Bank of New York- Mellon (12.5 million customers’ personal data lost during back-up transfer)
Countrywide Financial (17 million accounts downloaded by employee and sold to other lenders)
T. J. Maxx (90 million card accounts for $2.47 billion)
Veterans’ Administration (26.5 million veterans and active duty identities stolen)

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