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Schnuck’s, Target, Home Depot... the list of retail data breaches goes on and on. How can consumers be certain their personal information stays just that – personal – and doesn’t fall into the hands of criminal identity thieves?
You may have heard about chip technology and that it can help reduce fraud. That’s true, but just up to a point. Chip technology, which is already being implemented by some banks and merchants, is not a cure-all for retail breaches. While many credit and debit card issuers have begun issuing cards loaded with chip technology, the fact is there is no single form of security that is a panacea for card fraud. The technology does nothing to protect customer information used for online purchasing and other forms of “card-not-present” fraud, which is where the majority of card fraud takes place. In fact, chip technology would not have stopped the Target breach, and we caution those who think this technology by itself will do the trick.
No standards or regulations exist for merchants that come close to those in place for banks in securing customer data or notifying customers. While merchants claim that they are subject to card industry security standards, there is no regulator enforcing of these standards or examining them for compliance. In fact, most merchants self-certify their compliance, and consumers affected by the dozens of recent merchant breaches know all too well that this self-regulation is not working.
You may already know that the banking industry invests billions of dollars to maintain the strongest data security systems and to train employees on customer privacy and security protocols. Banks by law are required to adhere to strict customer privacy policies and rigorous data security standards. Banks also are subject to laws and regulations telling them how to respond and how to notify customers when any data breach occurs, and they must use additional steps to freeze or close compromised accounts, cancel and reissue cards, and monitor accounts for suspicious activity, all while handling customer inquiries and reimbursing their customers for any fraud losses.
What you may not know is that banks often foot the majority of the bill when it comes to reimbursing customers in a breach, even though the breach was the fault of a retailer and not the bank. The fact is that every player in the payment system – banks, retailers, card issuers and processors – must share the responsibility and accountability for keeping customer information safe. This obligation should not fall solely on the banking industry.
To help protect your sensitive financial data, Congress should mandate that every business and person who collects and handles customer account and personal information should be held to similar security and privacy standards. Congress should also adopt universal standards for reporting breaches and notifying customers when a breach occurs – and every party, including merchants, should be accountable and financially responsible for losses suffered by others as a result of their negligence. You, the Illinois consumer, deserve nothing less!
The State Bank Group always has customer information security in mind and we offer additional service recommendations.
- Our CardValet® mobile app allows you to manage and secure your State Bank Group Debit MasterCard. With Card Valet you can activate card alerts to receive notifications each time your debit card is used, limit transactions to specific locations or categories, or turn your card on and off anytime. When it is off, no one can use your card. Just download from the Apple® App Store or Google® Play on your smartphone. Activation is easy.
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize. If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
As always, we thank you for your business. We recognize you have many choices with respect to your financial business, and we appreciate the trust you place in us.