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Even though the data is supposed to be encrypted, “We do know breaches occur,” said Doug Johnson, senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity at the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C.
A recent survey by Creditcards.com found that 2 out of 3 online shoppers — or roughly 94 million Americans — have their card numbers stored on at least one website or mobile app. And about 10 per cent — or 14 million people — say they always save their card information online when they can.
“It’s definitely convenient, especially if you are a regular at the site,” said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at Creditcards.com in Austin, Texas. But the more places that payment information is stored, the greater odds of becoming a victim of fraud, he said.
Storing debit card numbers can be particularly problematic. By law, banks have 10 days to give debit card holders provisional credit for fraudulent purchases. Banks generally reimburse accounts much quicker than that, but however long it takes, customers are out the money. In contrast, credit card holders don’t pay anything for fraudulent charges.
“That was surprising because that generation has shown to be the most reticent” about shopping online, Schulz said.
Generation X and baby boomers were the least likely to save their card data, the survey found.
Anyone who decides that storing card numbers is worth the risk should be extra vigilant about monitoring their accounts for suspicious transactions, Johnson said.
“You are the one who can most easily catch an unauthorized transaction.”