Friday, October 10, 2014

Worried about someone stealing about your money? Maybe that "someone" is you.

How much time do you spend worried about identity theft? How many times has it actually happened to you?

Of course being a victim of financial fraud is a serious issue, and it's prudent to take steps to carefully manage your private information.

But at the same time, we only have a finite amount of energy and attention that we can pay to all the various things in our lives. We need to budget our focus just as carefully as we (hopefully) budget our money.

Ron Lieber has this to say in his Your Money column in the New York Times:
But this is also a good time to remind ourselves that we often worry too much about the wrong things. The biggest threat to our financial lives is probably not that thieves will get their hands on our payment card information. Instead, we should concern ourselves with the way we quietly chip away at our own net worth by using credit cards too much in the first place.
The biggest potential threat with credit cards isn't some foreign hacker stealing your account numbers. It's the myriad of ways that using plastic feels different than spending cash, causing us to blur our own financial boundaries, overspend, and trade our actual money for the often-ephemeral "perks" of miles, points, and rewards.

In other words, yes, it's awful when someone steals your money and spends it (though most consumer credit cards offer significant protection against losses of this sort). The source of loss you should be most worried about is yourself.

Read more of The Slippery Plastic Slope.