Shopping is a year-round activity, of course, but during holiday season, it’s done at an industrial strength level.
That sort of high volume means there’s ample opportunity to have items and/or tasks fall between the cracks. Like monitoring our spending.
This means it’s advisable to be more diligent as to who’s monitoring us.
There’s a host of logical reasons given as to why online shopping statistics continue to explode, virtually all based upon convenience:
- Less travel and parking hassles,
- Less susceptibility to impulse purchases, and
- Better access to coupon codes and cashback purchases.
More often than not, the most efficient means of online payment is via the original electronic token, credit cards.
Hacking has become so sophisticated that if a breach of either sort occurs, there are bots that can discover and mine it within 20-30 minutes. That’s usually faster than the data source being hit can receive an alert and repair it.
With this in mind, the least secure method of online payment is your debit card for the simple reason that it provides a direct line to your bank account.
Hackers sometimes go for the big kill by draining your funds to the debit card’s limit. Other times, they’ll deploy perniciously subtle practices to bleed your account over time by slipping in an innocuous series of ghost payments such as an installment for an item you never bought or a subscription you never ordered.
If you don’t catch these, the hacker’s got a source of recurring income for quite some time.
You’ll be better protected by using a credit card.
There’s no absolute means to totally insulate your data, but even bots are inclined to follow paths of least resistance. Thus, it’s worth your consideration to drop a hint that they should look to make trouble somewhere else.
One of the surest methods of improving your security is to add layers of protection that won’t slow down your ease of access. For example:
- If your online life is extensive, implement a master password.
- Use online transfer platforms like PayPal and Stripe.
- Create a virtual credit card.
Add Capital One to Bank of America and Citibank as major financial institutions offering virtual credit cards.
Privacy.com is a free app that allows you to create a virtual credit card for every outlet, if you so desire. It also can be switched over to multi-use mode:
Keep in mind there’s one major drawback to virtual credit cards.
If you laid it down in burner mode — one time only — it may be difficult to verify your purchase if you want a refund or make a return.
A simple alternative to virtual cards if it doesn’t cause issues with your personal bookkeeping system — eg- one card for business expenses, another card for personal expenses, etc — is to dedicate just one low-limit credit card to online purchases and be vigilant about checking the statement each month.
As always, do sufficient research before making a decision.
After all, it’s your money, and a bit of extra precaution can make sure you keep it that way.