I used to love using Amazon. It seemed like you could order anything, any time, without the inconvenience of having to get dressed, having to leave the house, or even having to wake up completely. But using Amazon means that I have to give them my credit card number.
I had limited the use of my credit card online since my card had been hacked the year before, but Amazon was one of the places I trusted, so I was dismayed a few months ago when I found fraudulent charges on my VISA statement identified as being "Amazon marketplace purchases" and I realized even this Internet behemoth was not totally secure.
Now, critics have rushed to respond "Amazon was never hacked" and, indeed, Amazon has never admitted that it was hacked, but the fact remains that that appears to be a connection between the use of my card on their site and later fraudulent charges. I am still waiting for an explanation from Amazon.
Amazon is not the only online retailer that is vulnerable. When you input your credit card number anywhere you are trusting not only the company itself, but all its 'affiliates' and 'subsidiaries' and everyone who handles their credit transactions.Most people outside the U.S. use 'smart cards' with an EMV chip, which are harder for crooks to hack. Because most Americans do not use credit cards with EMV chips, we have a disproportianate share of fraudulent charges.
A lot of American banks don't offer 'smart cards', or they charge an additional fee for their use. I admit I am waiting for the cost to go down.
In the meantime, I limit the use of my credit card and use cash and checks, but this also has its advantages and disadvantages.
I am re-visiting many of my favorite brick and mortar bookstores. I am pleased to find a few of them are still in business. How nice to go into a store like Mysterious Galaxy and find they still remember me! Barnes and Noble is another great bookstore that seems to have caught on that customer service is important to survival.
I am getting more exercise: I have to walk more.
I am saving money. My impulse buying has been reduced significantly.
I once envied those people who could control all their payments, even their boarding passes, through their small hand-held devices. Now I know I will never be a part of this technical elite.
And some stores will not accept checks - they prefer credit cards. A very few don't even like cash. So far this has not been a major inconvenience. Time will tell.
Addendum: July 2014. I still haven't heard from Amazon, but my husband has bought me a smart phone so that I could flash my boarding pass at the airport, and I have a new 'smart' credit card.