A recent Princeton Survey Research Associates International poll done for USA Today indicates that in the wake of major security breaches at companies such as Target and eBay, 27% of Americans are no longer making online purchases because of concerns of data security. Certainly this is understandable, but upon closer examination, online shopping can actually be safer than shopping in stores or by mail. Whenever you use a check to make a purchase, an identity thief who manages to steal your check (and there are many ways to do that) can easily counterfeit your checks and gain access to your entire bank account. In addition, it is important to remember that in many data breaches, such as the major Target breach, the people whose data was stolen were making their purchases inside the brick and mortar stores.
Shopping online may be the safest way of all to shop, but there certainly are steps to take to make your shopping experience safer. Do not use a debit card for purchases either in a store or online because if the card information is stolen, you are in much more jeopardy than if you had used a credit card which comes with much greater consumer protection and less risk. In addition, when shopping online you should never leave your credit card on file with the vendor for convenience. Doing so only makes your card information more vulnerable in the event of a data breach by the vendor. Always input your credit card number independently each time that you make an online purchase even if it is with a company with which you do continual business.