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5 Tips to Protect Your Electronic Payment, Online and Off

Americans are still in in shock over news that Target, one of the nation’s biggest retailers, was victim to a major data breach this past November. Credit card and personal information for approximately 110 million shoppers was compromised, leaving many consumers hesitant to use their credit or debit card.

The shockwaves from the Target scandal have trickled down to PayLease. We’ve had many conversations with residents who want to pay their rent electronically, but have reservations after being burned by Target.

Many of the people we speak with are fixated on the potential dangers of paying online. True, there are some risks involved with online transactions. But what many people don’t realize is that these recent high profile breaches (Target, TJ Maxx and Neiman Marcus) all involved in-store purchases only. Purchases made from these retailers’ websites were not compromised.

Furthermore, some of the riskiest places you can use a credit or debit card are offline.  Gas station terminals and ATMs are a big target. They can be outfitted with skimming devices, which are affixed to card slots and collect personal information when the card is used. Restaurants are another hot spot for identity theft since your card leaves your sight to be charged.

Many businesses today dedicate abundant resources to ensure their online systems are protected from hackers. PayLease for instance, dedicates thousands of man hours to ensure our system is PCI Level 1 Compliant – the most stringent and effective security certification available for credit card processors.

Our advice is to exercise some general precautions when using a debit or credit card, both in-store or online.  Here are some tips to help you minimize your risk of identity theft:

  • When possible, use your credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards remain one of the safest ways to shop and pay bills online because they leave the shopper the least liable for fraudulent activity.
  • Frequently check your bank accounts and credit card statements. Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, consumers aren’t responsible for more than $50 if charge is reported within two days. If the loss is reported 60 days after a statement containing fraudulent charges is mailed, a consumer’s liability jumps to $500.
  • Make sure any internet transaction is secured with encryption. Look for secure transaction symbols such as a lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of your web browser, or “https://…” in the address bar of the website. The “s” indicates “secured” and means the web page uses encryption.
  • Always log off from any website after a purchase transaction is made with your credit or debit card. If you cannot log off, shut down your browser to prevent unauthorized access to your account information.
  • Safe guard your personal information, not just credit card numbers. Shred documents containing this information as criminals can use it to open a new credit card or account.

Above all else, trust your instinct. If you feel the slightest bit uneasy about the safety of a merchant or payment scenario, do not use a credit or debit card!

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