Today while checking out at Target, paying cash, the cashier asked if I had a Target Red Card.
“You would receive 5% off your purchase today if you sign up!”, he said.
That would be about 45 cents. More out of curiosity I asked if getting the card would mean giving Target my email address and phone number. To my astonishment, he said “no, we want your Social Security number and driver’s license information”.
What? Give Target my Social Security number to save 45 cents? I said to the clerk “You must be joking. Target is collecting Social Security numbers with it’s sorry history of being hacked?”
He quickly said “WE have fixed our systems, they are safe now”. Not perceiving my skepticism, he went on to suggest that I go over to the Customer Service counter to complete registering for my Red Card.
As a victim of the last Target security lapse, I learned at the worst possible moment (at an ATM machine on the way to an event) that my debit card had been deactivated by my credit union due to suspicious activity following my use of the card at Target, where my number was apparently among those hacked. That only strengthened my resolve to mostly go back to using cash for purchases. Obviously I didn’t stop today to give Target more of my personal data.
At home I searched on line for more information about the Red Card. I was astonished to learn that it links directly to a persons’ bank account, drawing directly from the account to process purchases. That begs the question why not simply use your bank debit card or better yet, cash, rather than give Target your Social Security number to allow you to use a Red Card to pay from your account?
Cash is the best way to keep track of spending anyway. Decide how much you can spend during the week and as you see your cash declining you have a vivid sense of whether you are spending too much. Limit your debit or credit card purchases to emergencies or unusual circumstances. Guaranteed, you will spend less if you pay cash. There is something real and tactile about counting out dollars to pay, rather than swiping plastic and signing.
Moreover, why does Target in effect, impose a 5% surcharge on customers who elect to pay with cash, a debit card, or credit card? Why impose a 5% penalty on most customers? That is not fair or right. Target knows that customers will spend more using a card, than paying cash. You should be as smart as Target about your spending.