With all of the recent and very public hacking incidents (Yahoo recently reported that 500 million+ accounts were stolen), I was curious to know if these security breaches are discouraging users from sharing sensitive information online with tasks like shopping. What better person to interview about online shopping and security than my 67-year-old mom? Here’s a bit of insight on her perspective: she didn’t grow up with the internet but has learned to adopt many of the conveniences that come along with it. Would these highly public company hacks dissuade a baby boomer from buying things online? Here are the questions I asked (my comments in italics below her responses):
How often do you buy items online?
I probably purchase items online 2-3 times a month.
Do you store your usernames and passwords online or offline?
I store all my usernames and passwords offline. It feels safer that way. I type them up, print, then delete them from my computer and hide a copy in a book.
Offline is a pretty safe way to store your password information as long as you keep it somewhere safe. Make sure to store offline passwords in a very safe place.
Do you keep your credit card information on the shopping sites you use?
No, I never keep my credit card info on any of the sites I shop at, just another way to get hacked if they get hacked.
This is a good policy, but most people keep their credit card information on file with their favorite sites. Although not having to enter your credit card information every time you use a site can be convenient, it is safer to not store your information online at a third-party site.
With all of the high-profile hacks in the news (Sony, Yahoo, etc.) are you worried about shopping online?
I’m not that worried about online shopping because my credit card information has been stolen and used to make fraudulent purchases when I buy things in person.
At first I thought my mom was saying that her credit card was stolen, but the physical stores had their own online security breaches that resulted in fraudulent charges showing up on her card.
Have you ever had any fraudulent charges show up on your credit card? If so, what did you do about it?
Yes I have had fraudulent charges on my credit card. I called the card services number and they took the charges off. I also check my statement closely to make sure there isn’t anything I didn’t buy.
I received notification from Target and Eddie Bauer that they had been compromised during a period of time that I used my credit card there; both places offered a year of credit monitoring. I receive monthly alerts stating if there has been any activity.
Target had a highly publicized credit card hack, and my mom’s credit card was a part of that. Because of that and the Eddie Bauer hack, my mom has realized that buying something in person at a store isn’t inherently any safer than purchasing something online. Kind of odd that it took an offline security incident to make online purchases feel safer, but that is the world we now live in.
How do you know when you have fraudulent credit card charges?
I look over my statement to make sure I recognize all the purchases made. A couple of years ago there were about four charges from a mattress company in the UK. I called my bank and told them we didn’t purchase anything from there. They sent a form for us to fill out and took the charges off.
Reviewing your credit card statements monthly is the smartest thing you can do to protect yourself against recurring credit card fraud. Report a suspicious charge right away and your credit card company should have a remediation process for you to follow.
Have you been buying more or less online in 2016 than you did last year?
I probably spent more online this year than last. Since I am recently retired, I have more time to shop in store and I like to see the item I am buying, especially if it’s clothing. With online shopping I don’t like having to return items and pay for shipping, but I can’t always find what I am looking for, and being online gives me more choices.
The immense selection and ease of use is what will keep people coming back for online shopping as long as online stores and credit card companies can keep fraud in check.
For more information and tips on shopping this holiday season, check out the National Cyber Security Alliance’s Cyber Safe Online Holiday Shopping Resource.
About the Author
Chad Fisher is the founder of BTown Web, an ecommerce programming company that specializes in web design and development. Since 2010, Chad has had a keen interest in security and web development and loves helping companies understand how to get started selling online.