10/24/14

Retail Therapy

It's Holiday Shopping Season and prime time to losen the purse strings and take the stores by storm. Whether you brave the crowds at the mall or click away from the comfort of your couch, you're playing your part in the evolution of a great american tradition. SHOPPING!

Back in the day people were limited to mail-order catalogs and Montgomery Ward and Sears made millions from our Grandparents. Today we have so many choices and we are still looking for that TV at the rock bottom price. Bargain hunting in 2014 involves everything from big box stores, shopping villages, online stores and one-of-a-kind boutiques. Some online stores are opening brick and mortar locations to capture those shoppers who still like to see and touch merchandise. I am one of the touch & feel customers, who love to shop the clearance rack with additional discounts inhand, and do not mind spending hours scourging the racks. But, we have to be more diligent this year with our banking & credit card information and not trust the sales person behind the register to keep our info in check. Last year, Neiman Marcus and Target had massive cyber security breaches that cost more than 100 million customers money tribulations, when hackers stole personal and credit card information. The crime went undetected for months, until unauthorized charges started to appear last December. When you use your credit card you have to protect your credit card number like you do your children and not trust anyone!
Should you go all out and purchase Identity Theft Protection? Maybe, maybe not. According to an article I read in the Chicago Tribune - "Generally, ID theft protection services won't help much when card information is stolen from sale terminals in stores". "The best protection you have is detecting it early by monitoring your card's account statements and looking for unfamiliar charges. Don't wait for paper statements, especially after a known breach. Review your card transactions online".  In other words, credit monitoring companies will try to identify fraudulent new accounts on your credit reports and alert you to them. But, they do not really prevent identity theft. You have to protect Yourself.  Some paid services can cost up to $300 anually and I sure can use that money for my car repairs. What say you?
* Last year we spent $266 Billion during November & December.



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