3OYS: Experts say online shopping may be safest this holiday season

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- The holiday shopping season is here, but with all the data breaches that have happened this past year, consumers say they're changing the way they'll shop.

"I’ll just go to the bank, pull out the cash I need and just hide my card. I will not use my card during the holiday seasons," one shopper said.

Home Depot, Target and Neiman Marcus are among the big retailers that were hacked and had consumer information stolen.

"The highest risk level is at a large national chain using a standard credit card where you swipe," said Ken Colburn, a technology expert with Data Doctors. "The case of Home Depot, they went five months before they discovered they were breached, so these large retailers are going to be the biggest targets. And they're not targeting the online portions of these companies, they're targeting the actual stores."

And that's why Colburn and others believe online shopping may be the way to go this year if you want to avoid the risk of another data breach. But some consumers aren't completely sold when it comes to online shopping.

"Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It depends on what kind of item it is," a shopper said.

Don't forget, Black Friday is looming and Cyber Monday will be here before you know it.

Colburn added, “I think online is going to be, certainly from a statistical standpoint, less likely to be a fraudulent transaction."

There was a time when some consumers had concerns about online shopping, but Colburn says that's not necessarily the case anymore.

“I believe it's probably safer shopping online these days because basically you've taken all the humans out of the equation," he said.

According to the Privacy Rights Clearing House, there have been more than 930 million cyber breaches since 2005.

These days, to combat the data hacks, new payment options are being rolled out. In a previous 3 On Your Side report, we told you about chip-enabled credit cards. another option is Apple Pay, which is being used by limited retailers for iPhone 6 users. Google Wallet is yet another option for smartphone users.

"As you see these new technologies becoming available, I highly recommend you adopt them because all of them are more secure than what we're doing today with our magnetic stripes," Colburn said.

A big reminder: if you shop online, use your credit card and not your debit card. Credit gives you more protection and it's not connected to your bank account.