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Flushing Your Cash? 26% of People Shop on the Toilet

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Americans are major multi-taskers. Sometimes we don’t want to do one thing, when we could be doing two (or more). Apparently, that goes for online shopping. It’s not terribly surprising that 35.5% of us say we’ve shopped in bed. After all, that’s just a step beyond looking through ads in a magazine.

But in the bathroom? A place where people typically (hopefully!) wash their hands when they leave? Yes. A big 26.5% of us shop online in there, according to a new MasterCard survey. (And the younger you are, the more likely: 41.6% of U.S. residents ages 18 to 24 cop to shopping in the bathroom.) About 4% of us admit to shopping in the shower, and women are more likely to shop in these, um, untraditional places.

The survey is based off of a census-balanced nationally representative sample of 1,045 U.S. adults. It was conducted for MasterCard by Critical Mix via online questionnaire on Aug. 10 and 11. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

Shopping online in the bathroom may not have been quite as shocking as a couple of other less-popular venues. It seems people also shop at weddings (3.2%) and funerals (1.8%). And again, the younger demographics were more likely to place an order during the ceremony, with 18- to-24-year-olds most apt to shop online at a funeral and 25- to-34-year-olds most apt to shop at a wedding.

Protecting Your Payment (& Personal) Information 

Who worried about security? (Well, we’d be worried about someone finding out that we shop in the shower or on the toilet, but the survey was referring to data security.) Among men, more than half had concerns about security or were uncomfortable sharing payment information online. Significant numbers of women were also concerned, but less than 50%.

Clearly, there’s more at risk than your dignity. If someone is able to access your payment information — whether when you pulled your card out during your great-uncle’s funeral and someone captured it with a cellphone camera or when you ordered a new laptop while you were at a coffee shop using public Wi-Fi — you could become a victim of identity theft.

The basics for keeping safe are similar no matter where you do your online shopping.You can minimize your risk with a personal VPN (virtual private network) when you use public Wi-Fi. And shopping in the bathroom may have the security advantage in that no one is literally looking over your shoulder at your credit card.

Some people choose to store credit card information on shopping sites so that they don’t have to pull out their cards and re-enter the information, but this makes that data vulnerable in case of a breach — and the ease of purchasing may tempt you to spend more than you might otherwise.

It’s smart to check your credit card accounts online regularly, so that, if there’s been fraud, you can potentially find and address it quickly. Checking your free annual credit reports and credit scores can also give you early indications something is amiss. Information you don’t recognize on credit reports or unexplained changes in credit scores should be investigated. (You can get a free credit report summary from Credit.com, and it updates every 30 days.)

We’ll leave it to you to decide where to check your credit. (Just please not while driving. Could the 4.9% of people shopping online while driving maybe wait until the car is parked?)

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