Google Wallet: Your option to safeguard from Retail Hackers

January 31, 2014

Google Wallet Master Card for Google Wallet App

Google Wallet Master Card

Following the debacle of Target’s data breach post holiday season, it seems the only methods to safeguard our private contact and financial information derive from actions taken after the fact. Basically, we hear about a data breach on the 6 o’clock news, then we investigate our credit information online and cancel or change cards if we believe our information was compromised. Now, although I’ve signed up for credit monitoring with my own accounts, I imagine the process off sorting through and disputing unauthorized charges with your credit agency can get particularly tedious depending on the scale of the theft.

Nevertheless, we live in the land of the future where everybody knows the purpose of a phone is for far more glamorous things then actually talking to people.  No, phones are here to entertain us with angry birds and facebook. There here for taking selfies at the Grand Canyon because people want to see America’s greatest natural wonder covered by 88% of your face. There here provide us with directions to the next freeway exit so that we don’t end up in that neighborhood where they film 89% of gangsta rap videos.

So many dynamic personas I can assume with my trusty mobile device: amateur photographer, baby movie director, super map man who knows where he’s actually going (non-existent in my father’s day & age), weatherman, etc and now with Google Wallet an all new important role: responsible credit card guy who has less of a chance of being the victim of a hacker.

Like most Google products, the technology is simple. You first download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play. Once the app launches,  you set up a pin number and then establish your banking info using your account and routing numbers. You can use a checking or savings account, and once your banking source is set, you can transfer money to your Google Wallet. Now here’s the best part, you can access the money in  Wallet when you order your Google Wallet MasterCard. Just like any other MasterCard you can swipe this at retailers who accept MC and you can also use the card at ATMs (Wallet does not reimburse ATM fees). So, in another words, if I’m looking to purchase a TV from a big  corporate retailer that’s been hacked in the past yet, I’m afraid of using a personal credit card or I don’t want to carry cash on me like a Columbian Drug czar, I can now just transfer as much funds as I need to my Google Wallet MasterCard and use this tender as opposed to using a personal credit or debit card that can be maxed out. Other benefits include the ability to send money to anyone with an email address in the US with the mobile app or your Gmail account. Plus, Wallet has a section for Offers and Loyalty Programs. Instead of random coupons from blast emails, Wallet conveniently stores all of your offers in one place on your account. Find discounts local to you by hitting the “Explore” tab. Loyalty programs allow you to import existing programs you belong to so that you can reduce those annoying plastic cards from your wallet and keychains.

I made my first purchase this week at (yeah, you guessed it) Target, and instantly I was emailed the transaction info on Gmail with the time, amount, and transaction ID. Wallet also offers 24/7 fraud at no additional cost. Moreover, you can remotely disable your card from your account if the card is lost or stolen right from the phone.

But why do they do it? 

I notice that one question that often doesn’t get asked by the media when a major corporation or retailer is hacked is why. What’s the purpose? When it’s warring countries or global espionage, we just consider this a part of the spy game along with wire tapping and drones, but are hackers really doing this for economic gain? My guess when it comes to big companies is hacktivism, and corporate giants like Target, Wal-Mart or media titans like the New York Times are often targets for being viewed as not serving the best interests of humanity. Nevertheless, when it comes to sticking it to the man or getting diapers for my kid, I’m choosing the latter and there’s no reason to steal my debit card because I make that choice, but as always there’s no honor among thieves. In any case, I hope this is an option for those looking to have their money virtually protected in a very real world. Google Wallet, my only hope.

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