I’m accustomed to getting odd looks and the occasional remark about paying cash for everything. In a society where people use a debit card or credit card to pay for anything, even a two dollar cup of coffee, cash can seem like a relic from the past. A few people I know don’t even carry it any more.
But the sideways glances and snarky remarks have lessened. Why? Probably due to the rash of customer information security breaches these past year involving Target, Chase Bank, K-Mart, Staples, Zappos, ebay, UPS, McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza, and Living Social, just to name the ones we know about.
If you’ve paid with a credit or debit card at one of these retailers, chances are your personal financial information is in the digital wind, and there’s very little you can do about it. Certainly, you’ll want to change your account numbers and passwords and pray online fraudsters pass you by.
Going forward, you may want to get in the habit of carrying currency and paying cash for what you buy. You’ll find it not only protects your identity, it actually encourages you to spend less. Little numbers on a little receipt hardly register in the mind these days; taking a five dollar bill out of your wallet and handing it over for a designer cup of coffee will make you think. (It makes me cringe, actually.)
And take retailers’ promises of keeping your data safe with a grain of salt. Their intentions are good, but the reality is harsh: when I asked a friend of mine who consults in technology about online security, he simply replied, “There isn’t any.”