Friday, December 20, 2013

Tech point to ponder during the yuletide credit-card-swiping season

by Don Keith N4KC

So word comes that there has been a security breach and anyone who scanned a debit or credit card at Target over several months could well find their info being used by scurrilous bastards.  Count me among the millions whose accounts are now laid bare and naked and available for use by these hackers.

My first thought was, "Oh, my!"  And to run and check to see if a new Mercedes might have gotten charged to my AmEx card.  Then two bits of common sense hit me.  If millions of card numbers and passwords were lifted, the odds of mine being used were pretty low.  And nowadays, thanks to technology, I can easily see each day anything that might get charged without my knowledge.  I'm even prone to get a call from the card folks asking me if I am attempting to purchase a $60,000 diamond necklace...something decidedly different from the spending profile they have on me.

Once upon a time thieves took money.  Or checkbooks.  Or even better, your entire wallet or purse.  Then, using your ID (which only has had a picture on it in recent times), they could use up your checks and spend your cash all over town.  And it might be the end of the month, when you finally got your bank statement in the mail, before you realized you had financed some jerk's spending spree.

There is also a third bit of common sense here, too.  The credit card companies are on the hook for these ill-gotten gains, should my card come up in the swiped-to-get-swiped lotto.  I just need to log onto my account--as I do regularly anyway--and look for the charge for a pair of tickets to Tahiti or for that 60-inch TV.

So, even though it is now possible for one cad to steal millions of people's credit card info, it is also easier for us to keep an eye out and see if they actually use ours.  And for the credit card companies to manage their losses.  And, I suspect, for law-enforcement to track down and catch whoever did the deed.

Technology triumphs again!