The Fear of Shopping

SmartSwipe is a product allowing you to swipe your credit card at home rather than type in those nasty 16 digit numbers off of your card. I suppose if you’re a power shopper who’s a bad typist, refuses to allow any site to retain your card information for you, and fears PayPal, this might make a modicum of sense. But it doesn’t make $100 worth of sense.

What’s a company to do? Pump up the fear factor of course. (View the infomercial video on the linked page for the full effect.) Apparently shopping online is a very dangerous thing. Identity thieves are lurking all over the Interwebs just waiting to get their hands on your credit card number. But now, at last, thanks to SmartSwipe, you can shop safe and secure at last.

Oh brother! Talk about solving a manufactured problem. What’s curious to me is that the same people who will fall for this marketing ruse because of perceived online dangers are the same ones who practice some of the most risky credit card actions.

For example, do you still receive and save printed monthly statements? If someone breaks into your house or swipes the mail from your box, they will easily get your account number this way. Have you ever given your credit card to a waitress or a store clerk who placed the card out of your view at any time? They could have easily scanned, copied, or even memorized your card details. Hev you ever taken your card from your wallet with people behind you in line? If they can see the card, they can get the number. Have you ever given anyone a personal check? It has the bank routing codes and your account number along the bottom.

I’m not suggesting that you should stop doing all these things. Heck, I give my card to waitresses all the time. But banks and credit card companies have checks in place to identify fraudulent behavior and most cards have liability limits (often only $50) should your information be stolen. Further, all electronic transactions (via the Internet, swiping your card in a store or at the pump) are by in large the most secure things you will ever do with a credit card. They are, of course, open to the occasional computer glitch, but the banks usually remedy these quickly, and they are good for a giggle.

Caution and sensibility are always in order with any financial transaction. But don’t give in to the baseless fear.

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