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The cost of data breaches continues to pile up for consumers and financial institutions.


When it feels like data breaches happen every week at major retailers and franchises, how can you feel safe about using your debit or credit card?  Some larger data breaches at franchises have cost customers and financial institutions tens of millions of dollars. While fraud is becoming more common, there are things people can do to better protect themselves and their hard earned money.

Tip #1 - Always use the “credit” option when using a debit or credit card. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account. Typically most issuers will reimburse that $50 as well, which means you usually won’t be out any money in the end.

Tip #2 - Don’t rely on just one card, if possible. Use one credit card for retail and online purchases, and possibly another credit card for recurring bills. You could then use your debit card at credit union owned ATMs to get cash. Putting your purchases on a credit card protects your bank account. Using a credit card also limits your liability, and having a separate card for monthly bills should help you avoid the headaches of having to redo recurring billing if your other card is compromised.
Tip #3 - If you have a newer mobile phone, you can take advantage of services like Apple Pay that use advanced tokenization and encryption to protect data. Many retailers are now offering this technology to accept payments. Once your credit card is loaded and encrypted on your phone, you just use your thumbprint and phone to make purchases. And because this technology encrypts your card information, there is no chance of your card information being compromised even if a retailer is hacked.

Until retailers and restaurants are held to the same standards as financial institutions, data breaches will continue to happen. But you can minimize the effects by following these few simple rules and changing some of your purchasing habits.

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