The month of July is here and with it brings the mid-summer shopping frenzy. Credit cards get a work-out as consumers join the melee of sales, deals and offers too good to resist. The traditional Christmas in July sales offer consumers great deals on big ticket items like cars, laptops and electronics, among other in-store and online deals. Those sales are further boosted by vacation and travel spending (gas, hotels, car rentals, airline, and amusement park tickets) and the eventual back-to-school shopping. Adding to this mix for the last 5 years is a new consumer shopping phenomenon - Amazon Prime Days.
Prime Days have become arguably the biggest shopping event of the year, with this year’s 2 day event reporting sales that surpassed Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined! Amazon further reported it sold more than 175 million items and that July 15th saw more new Prime Memberships opened than any other previous day. Amazon said it sold over 100,000 laptops, 200,000 televisions, 300,000 headphones, 350,000 luxury beauty products and more than 1 million toys. With all this card-swiping and online purchasing that has retailers licking their chops as they add up sales, do your credit union members need to be worried about their card data being over-exposed?
Unfortunately, as we have all seen, transacting online and putting your financial information out on the internet comes with a certain amount of risk. Almost weekly we read headlines telling us of some sort of cyber security breach. Recent examples of cyber-breaches include the Checkers and Rally’s restaurant chains, Marriott hotels and pictures from the Ricoh Theta camera owners that were stored unprotected on-line. As these companies work to correct all of the data breaches, they must not only work with consumers to reset passwords and user ids, but also examine how the breach occurred, identify the source or access point of the breach, and take steps to prevent it from happening in the future. More robust firewalls, data encryption and software that can identify malware are some of the cybersecurity measures that need to be considered to better protect the consumer.