U.S. behind the times when it comes to credit card security - WFLA News Channel 8

U.S. behind the times when it comes to credit card security

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The massive Target data breach thrust credit card security into the spotlight. It is also calling into question why the United States has been so slow to switch to a more secure credit card system.

Loyal Target customer Melinda Mang says, "I love Target. I can't help it. You walk into buy one thing and you walk out with like a hundred things."

However, Mang is a little disgruntled after being a victim of the retail giants massive security breach back in December.

She didn't realize she was a victim until both her Target credit card and her Target-issued debit card were recently denied when she tried to shop at Target.

Mang says getting in touch with Target to get her cards re-issued hasn't been easy. "It's frustrating. I was on the phone for five hours, two days in a row and nothing."

Mang is one of millions of consumers now caught in the cross hairs of a credit card security meltdown in the United States.

The magnetic strip technology so popular in the U.S. is outdated. In other parts of the world, Europe for example, chip and pin technology is the standard. It is a vastly more secure way to protect your information.

Gerri Detweiler of Credit.com says, "We are very behind the times in the U.S. when it comes to credit card security. We're using old technology and it's making it really easy for hackers, a lot of times based in Europe where the protections are stronger, to get into our systems."

Detweiler says money is one of the main reasons the U.S. has not made the switch. "It's very expensive to upgrade the system. You have all the cards to replace, you've got every single retail terminal that has to be refitted with new card readers. We're talking million and billions of dollars to upgrade our technology."

The massive Target data breach is proving to be the catalyst that will propel change in the United States.

Experts now predict 95% of credit cards in the U.S. will have the chips by 2015. Right now, only about 5% do.

"It's been one of those situations where no one wants to be the first. no one wants to spend the money on the upgrade until someone else requires it. so, we're moving in that direction but, quite frankly, not fast enough," says Detweiler.

Ironically, the magnetic strip likely wasn't the weakness that allowed the Target breach to occur. Detweiler says, "It happened from the hackers getting the information as it was being transmitted through the system, so chip and pin probably wouldn't have stopped that and wouldn't have stopped these card numbers from being used for on line shopping but it still is a more secure environment generally."

The fact is, there is no perfect solution according to Detweiler. "Crooks are creative. If we find one way to stop one kind of fraud they are going to find another way to get into our wallets."

Related Content: America's best EMV "Chip with signature" credit cards


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