Target Gives Me Another Reason not to Want a Credit Card

by Bill on December 20, 2013

credit cards and interest charges

Target, one of the largest discount retailers in America, gave me my latest good reason never to want to swipe plastic through a card reader when possible. When a hacker grabs data of 40 million card holders, that should make people think twice.

For those of you who haven’t heard, or live in a bubble, Target got hit with a security breech that compromised the information of some 40 million card holders during the first two weeks of the holiday shopping madness. 40 million.

Information Theft

Okay so here’s point number one on why credit card use is such a big issue with me. Apparently the information was snatched via the magnetic strip when a card goes through the POS at the register (that’s the little swipe thing you put the card into to pay for stuff).

This means information concerning the account number, name, security number on the back of the card, address and password for the account tied to each card was stolen. Gee anybody got an extra billion dollars they want to lend because that’s about the amount of money at risk here.

You Can’t Control Your Own Money

And we’re not even looking at the repercussions beyond this yet. I read on one or two articles how people were worried about the potential for bills going unpaid and payments to bounce. Okay, well gee, again, here’s a  dumb question – why are your bills and automatic payments tied into a system that can be taken out of your control?

Seriously; I know convenience tends to outrank common sense these days, but do people realize that they have potentially given up control of their own finances for the sake of convenience? If you tie your bill payments into a credit card you are basically telling people you don’t care how money is handled, as long as you don’t have to deal with it.

You Don’t Need That Much Debt

Here’s another issue I have with the credit card problems in the news. Why do people need so much debt anyhow?

If you don’t mind paying all the interest charges, fees and such, you have no cause to complain about the banking industry and how greedy they are; it’s all the people like you who love plastic that gave them that power.

Something I’ve always stated, and will always believe – if you cannot afford to pay for it in cash, you don’t need it right now. And if you know you are going to need something, save up for it or do without. It’s just that simple. You see, people can’t have their financial information compromised if they are paying with cash. Yes, you can still get robbed, but there are way fewer ramifications if you loose a few dollars out of your pocket as compared to having credit card information stolen.

Some Helpful Stuff at the End

First, if you do have your card compromised, call the bank and close off the account NOW. Then cut up the card, it’s worthless. No, don’t worry about what payments may not get through; at least you know about those. You can make arrangements to get around that.

Second, if you have an online account tied into the bank or card, go change the password and if possible, the email address. Again, do that NOW. I’ll wait. This is important because if you don’t whomever has your information can also hack into your bank account and oops, there goes your bank balance too.

Third, contact the credit reporting agencies (Equifax and those guys) and let them know the account was breeched. You at least have a fighting chance then if weird charges start showing up. You can look these guys up online.

Fourth, the bank will not email you or call you seeking information about your account. They already have it. Do not respond to any such email, or link; and for heaven’s sake don’t talk to anyone on the phone who tells you they just want to confirm something. Banks don’t do that.

Fifth and final. Seriously consider using a debit card tied to a checking account only. Seriously consider not getting another credit card and only using available cash reserves. It eliminates a lot of this crap.

Thanks for listening, and have a nice day.


William Swan, writer

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Anne Wayman December 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Amen… living cc debt free turns out to be easy once you get used to it and saves a ton of money… Bill how do you know if you’re cc has been stolen… or the info like in this target deal?
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Bill December 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Checking your monthly statements should be a routine that helps you find out if the card information was lifted. Look for addresses, names and sudden spikes in spending that don’t normally appear. Look for multiple charges on the same day or a number of days where the card was used all over the map.

If you go to the store and get denied for a transaction, ask why. They should be able to give you a code and a phone number. Call the number and find out what the code means.

If items start showing up at your door, and you didn’t order anything, leave it there and watch for someone to pick it up; most likely it’s the person using your card.

Those are just a few off the top of my head.

Crystal December 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

What password is included with the info on the magnetic strip? I use my credit card almost exclusively and have had it compromised twice. The first time was about two years ago and I noticed a fraudulent charge when I went online to pay the bill and got that immediately reversed. The second time was last month when someone tried to spend $800 at a Home Depot in PA (I’m not in PA) and my card issuer declined the transaction and I was notified. Neither time did the thieves access my online account.

We use our visa card as a safeguard against thieves. I’d much rather deal with fraudulent charges on a credit card than have my bank account cleaned out if my debit card is compromised. I realize that you eventually get your money back but found out when my BIL’s debit card was fraudulently used last year to buy hundreds of dollars worth of women’s clothing in the UK that it can take a while to be resolved. In addition to several phone calls and trips to the bank, he was without access to his money for over a week. It took just one phone call to resolve my fraudulent credit card charges and none of our money was ever tied up in the process.

Beings we pay our balance in full each month, we never pay interest charges. And we have a no-fee card so there’s no cost to us to use credit. In addition, we actually get paid to use the card through rewards points and almost completely financed Christmas this year redeeming our accumulated points for gift cards for the kids and grands. I even wrote about it over at Penny Thots

I know that indebtedness is bad and many folks are unable to resist the urge to buy things they can’t afford if they’ve got easy access to credit. But for folks like us who pay their bill in full each month, credit cards provide convenience, perks and safety not available with other means of payment.
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