CHARLOTTE, N.C – Jenifer Daniels doesn’t really understand World of Warcraft.
“So you don’t do any online gaming?” I ask her.
“No,” she says.
But she knows a little more about it than she did a week-and-a-half ago. That’s when someone used her stolen debit card number to buy World of Warcraft items online.
“I assume they're buying lives,” she says.
Now I need some explanation.
“They run out of lives. So they say, ‘Hey, you got $20? I got this credit card. I'll sell it to you.” And then, she says, they use the number to buy more stuff.
In all, someone charged $200 worth of online gaming to Daniels’ debit card. How did her number get out there?
“Target,” she says. “Obviously.”
Daniels is one of more than 70 million people who had their debit card information stolen from Target. The company is proving credit monitoring services for victims, and banks are also stepping up to get ahead of the problem. At least five financial institutions in the Carolinas have mailed out new cards, according to The Charlotte Observer. In all, the state attorney general’s office thinks 1.2 North Carolinians were affected.
Daniels’ new card hasn’t come in yet.
“It puts you in a bind,” she says. “You can’t run out and get gas. You can't run out and get essentials.”
It’s also changed the way she does things. For example, her husband now has the only working debit card in her home.
“I asked my husband if he wanted to go eat lunch,” she said, laughing, “So he could pay for it.”
If you’re wondering whether you should change the way you pay for things, the Better Business Bureau says security-wise, credit cards are better if you’re hit by fraud. Federal laws provide protection, says Tom Bartholomy of the Better Business Bureau in Charlotte. “The most you can be out as a consumer is $50.”
Debit cards can keep you on budget, since you can’t use them to spend money that you don’t have. But there’s no federal law requiring banks to reimburse you, although many will do so if you report fraud early enough.
Cash is a third option, but there’s a modern drawback with it. “You can’t use cash to make online purchases,” says Bartholomy. If the cash you have is lost or stolen, it’s gone.
Daniels says she will get her $200 back, and that her bank has been easy to work with. She also says she’ll use her new debit card less often. “The only way you won't get hacked, is if you use cash,” she says. “So we're just going to do it old school from now on.”