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by Eric P. Jackson

Credit Card Compromise is the New Normal

Two days after writing 5 Reasons Why the Security Crisis is Here, I was informed that my Southwest Airlines Chase Visa had been compromised. I laughed out loud..yes, I LOL'd. Literally. Stupid criminals, I'm not going to be your victim.

This incident clearly illustrates what I referenced in the 5 Reasons post. Security breaches are the new normal. I couldn't possibly tell you if my credit card was compromised during an online transaction or by some coked-up server in a restaurant...and I don't care. Here's why:

EVER WATCHFUL

I don't care mostly because my Chase card is watched like a hawk by me and (now, apparently) Chase. Every few days, I quickly auto-login (thank you, LastPass.com) and look at the recent transactions. I'm still of sound enough mind that I can recognize if the transactions are mine or not.

Fortunately, Chase quickly discerned that I wasn't shopping at an online British clothing store. That's always a safe assumption...but somehow Chase knew. Probably because I'm more inclined to wear clothing from Mountain Khakis than [insert-name-of-British-brand-here]. They alerted me, I told them I wasn't buying knickers from the Brits, and I had a replacement card the next day.

NO DEBIT

Dave Ramsey says "no" to credit cards and "yes" to debit cards. He won't like my usage of credit cards for daily spending. Ramsey recommends using a debit card. It might have been a good idea a few years ago, but I consider it mortally stupid.

Why is this a problem you ask? When you use a debit card cash is transferred from your account to the merchant (or criminal). When you figure out your debit card has been compromised, you're significantly lighter in the cash department and it's now up to you and your bank to work out the problem.

You could be drained of thousands of dollars before you figure it out. Getting your cash back isn't going to happen in an instant. In most cases being made whole can take days if not weeks.

My credit card gets compromised...big whoop: I'm inconvenienced for 15 minutes.

RECURRING

The inconvenience I experience is minimal, because I'm prepared. First, inform the credit card company support person that I didn't attempt the charge. Second, I login to five websites that charge my card monthly on a recurring basis and enter my new card number which takes about 10 minutes. Third, I go back to whatever I was doing before I got the call.

Because I'm prepared I know exactly which recurring charges hit my card, how to change them, and how much they are when they show up on my statement. Living in the new world of regularly compromised data is going to require some diligence. My advice is be ready. It's a matter of 'when' and not 'if' you're going get hit.