Dear Mikey,

Surely everyone has heard about the Target security breach by now. I actually used my card around mid-December for Christmas shopping, and my bank informed me that my card had been compromised. The bad part is, my bank just found out so my card has been compromised this whole entire time, however I was unaware. The ironic thing is, I also used my card at Neiman Marcus and Michael’s so I think my card becoming compromised was inevitable at that point.

I am pretty sure that I am not the only person who fell victim to these security breaches so I thought I would write in to address the issue.

Can you offer us some tips on how we can prevent this from happening in the future? I love shopping at Target; however, is it worth the potential security risk?

-Hesitant Retail Shopper

Dear Hesitant Retail Shopper,

Using your debit or credit card at any retailer is always at the consumer’s discretion. There is always a risk when you use your card, whether you are shopping at a national retailer or a local one. As with everything in life, there are no guarantees. Just because a company has security software, doesn’t mean it can 100 percent prevent hackers from getting in their systems and stealing your information. I can offer you a few suggestions, however, everyone takes a risk every time a card is used.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to still shop at Target. However, perhaps instead of using your card, why not pull some cash out of your bank account if you know what you need to grab ahead of time? This way you are not only watching your spending and preventing impulse buying, but you are also taking out the risk for your personal information getting hacked.

Another way to protect yourself is by buying those prepaid visa cards. You can easily buy them with cash at the store and use them wherever you go as the magnetic strip doesn’t link to any of your personal information.

These are just a few things that you can try and do to protect your bank account; however, either way you play it, you are always going to have risks. You could grab cash to make a purchase and then your wallet gets stolen or your prepaid visa card could get stolen. You could swipe your credit card at the pump and hackers can grab your information that way. It is a gamble either way.

As consumers, we are all at risk no matter which route we take. We just have to try and do the best that we can to protect our finances. Constantly changing passwords, keeping our pin numbers safe, using more cash than cards—all of this can help in trying to protect ourselves. Pick the route that you feel is the most secure and what works the best for you.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at writtenbymikey@gmail.com.

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