Hold merchants accountable for personal data

by. Bill Cheney

The most recent data breaches by the big box retailers Target and Neiman Marcus are not nearly the first data breach of this kind. And the way things seem to be going, they are not likely to be the last. In fact, in my time as CEO of a large credit union in California, and as president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), I have seen how frequently personal data can be compromised by a merchant. Much attention has been paid to the Target breach because of its size and scope, but these occurrences happen more frequently than we would like to admit, and even at smaller vendors.

As a result, millions of consumers, many of them assuredly credit union members, have been placed at risk of being victimized by thieves who could access their accounts or commit other forms of identity theft.

It’s time for Congress to act to stop the cycle.

In the weeks following the Target breach, the first priority for credit unions has been to ensure that their members are protected from fraudulent transactions now and in the future. Unfortunately, due to the frequency of merchant data breaches, credit unions are all too aware of the steps they must take when they occur. The steps credit unions have been taking include notifying members who have been affected, helping them to monitor their accounts and urging them to review their account statements, reversing fraudulent transactions and reissuing their cards, when appropriate.

I know firsthand that credit unions are working with their members affected by this breach, and reissuing cards to them at no cost. Again, that’s the right way to do business.

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