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Merchant payments: where am I safer?

Merchant payments where am I safer

I never used to think twice about shopping. Most of us didn’t. Whether I was at a mall or at a big box retailer or at a local family-run shop, I never questioned what happened during the merchant payment’s process. As long as I swiped my card and saw the approved notice or heard the register continue to print my receipt, I knew I was ok. 

When online shopping came along, there was some natural hesitation or trepidation by many, including myself. But by and large, we all got used to this alternate way to browse and purchase as we began to learn and understand the protocols invoked on secure websites (think https).

But the past few years have given us additional pause on where we lay bets on our personal and financial safety. The consumer awareness of things like data breaches and fraud is at an all-time high. And it’s not hard to understand why.

The Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report1 was recently released. The annual report goes deep into breach types, including everything from malware to cyber-espionage. It’s a veritable ‘what’s what for the who’s who’ in cyber-crime and cyber-crime management. As in prior years, this annual report shared some statistics:  

  • 70,790 security incidents identified
  • 2,122 data breaches confirmed
  • From 61 countries

So, what does this report have to do with determining the safety of one’s shopping? A lot. Having worked for credit card issuers and payments companies for many years, I know there are a lot of security and fraud prevention protocols built into the payments ecosystem from all sides. So I know I can shop in confidence with most known or reputable merchants. But not everyone has that type of insight.

Industry reports like this reinforce the hard work of security professionals who spend countless time tirelessly monitoring, tracking and stopping nefarious hackers from inflicting damage. Nothing is ever guaranteed fool-proof, but consumers need to be aware that there is a global network of industry professionals dedicated to making their shopping experiences seamless and secure, protecting their personal and financial data, and working with the greater payment and banking ecosystem to protect personal and financial data. 

Surprisingly absent from the Verizon report? Mobile malware, at least not enough to raise the ire of the publisher and related contributors. I guess I can continue using my smartphone to shop with confidence.