When you check out often on certain websites, it’s tempting to store your credit card information. This way you can complete transactions faster, and no need to go get your bag and wallet and pull out your plastic.
I confess I have said yes a few times, and then later had to go back and delete all these payment methods after a friend got hacked. Even though he did not have to pay for any of the unauthorized purchases, knowing the hassle he went through of having to report the fraud and document it (because the card company will always put the burden of proof on the cardholder) was enough to make me go back and remove my stored card information.
So next time you are paying online and are asked: “Would you like to store this card information online for future use?”, consider these reasons before you say yes.
#1 Data breaches happen, and your credit card information could be leaked
Hackers have become increasingly aggressive, and they don’t just target individuals. They have been going after companies and you name it, almost all the big players in every industry has been hit. This year alone, we saw reported data breaches from Twitter, PayPal, even JD Sports! It seems no one is safe, and sadly, neither is your credit card.
#2 Beware of “free trials” with expiration dates
I once fell for an offer of first year free subscription to a door to door shopping service. In the end, I never got to use it even once. After the 12 months have passed, I saw a P550 charge on my credit card. It seems the fine print indicated that unless I cancel, I am agreeing to pay P550 every month for their service. Their trick was to get the first year free, I had to give them my credit card information. And of course, I forgot about the end of the free trial. They refused to refund me even though I never used their service, and likely never will.
#3 Subscriptions are tougher to cancel with credit cards
Whether it’s gym membership or streaming services, it’s not easy to cancel automated payments when you want to. Because they have your credit card information, the payments can be charged even after you have requested them to stop the service. Maybe they are inefficient. Or maybe they have cut-off dates. Or maybe they really mean to get one more payment out of you. But whatever the reason, you will have to make a few calls, maybe send out a few emails, and invest more of your time to cut off your financial ties.
#4 Impulse buys are made easier with just one click
Sometimes you are just really window shopping online. You like something but still undecided. Just as you are closing your browser window, the site pops up with a message – “You have 3 items on your cart that are at 50% off, check out now and don’t miss these deals”. That might make you decide to press ORDER and PAY. If your credit card is not saved, that may restore your sanity and snap you out of the shopping haze. But if they have your plastic information, that click will already cost you.
#5 Tracking family expenses are tougher on you, but easier for hackers
A friend did not think much when she would see some expenses she did not remember making in her card statement, because she assumed that was probably her husband, or one of her two kids. The charges started out small, and she thought they were downloading more games, or buying more electronic books. And then the hacker became bolder and began charging thousands of pesos. When she reported it, she discovered that they have been racking charges for many months. Unfortunately, you can only contest your latest billing because when more than 30 days have passed and you paid your previous bill, that means you accepted all the charges.
In the end it is a choice between convenience and safety. Yes, having to key in your payment information each time you buy something online is a pain. But, given a choice, I would take that over panicking because my bank account got hacked (and cannot get through to customer service). Or regretting big purchases and even small ones that I did not really want nor need. Or screaming inside over having to cancel that not-really-free trial. Choose your poison wisely.