PORTLAND -- Is it time to ditch the credit cards and start using cash to make your purchases? The latest retail security breach may have you second-guessing your method of payment.
First it was Target, then it was Neiman Marcus and now the nation’s largest arts & crafts chain, Michaels is warning customers of a possible security breach. To add to the stress, experts say, it’s just the beginning.
“There's at least six, possibly even up to 20, different retailers that have been affected by this,” said Tripwire’s Ken Westin, a security researcher.
Michaels is the latest retailer to face potential hackers, who steal customers' credit and debit card information, along with a lot of other personal information. Often cyber criminals sell the information on the black market.
Michaels released a statement saying, in part: “We are taking aggressive action to determine the scope of the situation.”
Westin said that’s common. “They have to go in and they have to research and they have to find out, go through their log files.”
Once that’s done, Westin said the number of customers affected could be staggering. But an Associated Press/GfK Poll indicates while more than half of the people are worried about their security, and even more about their security using a mobile device, they don’t seem to take steps to protect themselves. Only 41% actually checked their credit reports, 37% opted to use cash over credit as a form of payment, and even fewer changed their passwords, requested new cards or signed up for a credit monitoring service.
“I try not to carry it [credit card] around as much as I possibly can, only if I know I have to use it,” said shopper Emily Petr.
“I usually do everything online where it’s safer, at least for me,” added shopper Chuck Hedlund.
And shopper Claire Brown said, “What are you going to do, you can't like, not use your credit card, well I guess you could, but I’m not going to not use my credit card.”
Experts predict that it’s only going to get worse. While you may not think it affects you, someone’s got to pay for it and that someone is the consumer. It’s said the price of capitalism is vigilance and according to Westin, that price is going up.
“People are sort of becoming complacent by this, you know, another breach or whatever, they may not be impacted, they may not have to pay anything out of pocket right now, but we are all in this together,” he said.
If you think you may be at risk of a security breach or your personal information is at risk, the best advice is to cancel your credit or debit card and have your financial institution issue a new number.