Okay, so I can’t say for certain that you specifically have had your debit or credit card information stolen in a retail data breach.
But let me ask two questions:
- Do you have a debit/credit card?
- Do you ever use it to buy things in a store or restaurant?
If you answered YES to those, most likely one or more of your cards has been accessed during a data breach at some point.
If it hasn’t happened yet, it will. This is the world we live in right now.
Perhaps raising the stakes for retailers would help—I was not aware until recently that, for the most part, merchants bear none of the financial burden when their security practices lead to a massive data breach that exposes ten of millions of consumers’ card data to bad people. So they continue to allow single-authentication access to their point-of-sale machines, continue to use “password1” and “abc123” as their access codes, continue to just leave things as they are, because there is no reason not to.
So who pays for your replacement card? Who reimburses you for those fraudulent charges? Your bank or credit union do.
And then you pay for them, because this is a hard-and-fast rule of financial institutions: when they lose money, they will try to recover it from another source. So maybe a loan rate creeps up by a twentieth of a point, or a fee that used to be $2 is now $2.50. These may be tiny changes, but they still represent money you could have kept in your pocket.
Of course, financial institutions can be hacked, too. It happens. And those institutions pay for card reissue and reimbursement when it does. But it’s so much easier to mount a point-of-sale hack. Data breaches wouldn’t be such a common problem if it was too difficult—despite the word “hacker,” these criminals are not geniuses. There are too many of them.
The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has mounted a campaign called “Stop the Data Breaches.” It’s worth a look.
Shouldn’t retailers bear some responsibility for data security, with as much consumer data as they handle every second?
It seems fair.