The time for credit card security reform is now – National Consumers League

During the busiest shopping time of the year – the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas – Target, one of America’s largest retailers, suffered the second biggest data breach in U.S. history as 40 million credit and debit cards were compromised. 

Americans assume that when they shop their personal financial information will be kept private and away from identity thieves. Unfortunately, that is not always the case evidenced by the more than 4,000 data breaches that have been reported since 2005, an average of more than one a day over the last nine years.

Consumer advocates hope that the scale of the Target data breach will serve as the impetus for much needed credit card security reform. The time for change is now. Although consumer’s financial information will never be 100% secure, there are things that can be done. Retailers can use advanced encryption technology and more secure firewalls. Credit card companies can encourage the use of “Chip and PIN” technology in their credit cards. Our politicians can pass legislation establishing a national data breach notification standard and urge the Obama Administration to explore incentives and penalties to encourage private sector businesses to better protect consumer data. These changes will not happen without pressure from consumers.

This week, a group of Democratic Senators requested that the Senate banking Committee hold hearings to examine cybersecurity practices. The letter, written by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Charles Schumer (D-NY) stated, “We believe it would be valuable for the Committee to examine whether market participants are taking all appropriate actions to safeguard consumer data and protect against fraud, identity theft, and other harmful consequences, and whether we need stronger industry-wide cybersecurity standards.”

Changing and improving security standards will inevitably cost time and money. No one wants to foot the bill for needed innovations. Our lawmakers must capitalize on the current consumer awareness of the need for better cybersecurity and hold a congressional hearing to determine how businesses can better protect consumer data.

Consumer group applauds trio of Senators for requesting Congressional hearing to examine data security standards – National Consumers League

January 3, 2014

Contact: Ben Klein, NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, is applauding a trio of Senators who are asking for a hearing on the nation’s data security standards. In the aftermath of the recent Target data security breach affecting 40 million credit and debit cards, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Charles Schumer (D-NY) have signed a letter requesting that the Senate Banking Committee hold a hearing “as soon as reasonably possible.”

“It is time that Congress examine our data security standards and determine how business can better protect consumers’ financial information,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “When our personal information is compromised, not only does it have the potential to cost the consumer significant time and money, but it also threatens our confidence in the security practices of the companies with whom we share our information. There is more that businesses can and should be doing to ensure our sensitive information is protected. Congress can be very helpful in pressing for a far stronger set of policies to protect private consumer financial data.”

The Senators were prompted to pen the letter to Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, by the Target data breach, which took place at the height of the busiest shopping time of 2013, between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In early December, just a few days before news about the Target data breach emerged, NCL released a white paper discussing the impact of data breaches on consumer vulnerability to fraud and the resulting loss of trust in the online economy. The NCL white paper included a number of policy recommendations to better protect consumers’ data including calling for a national data breach notification standard and urging the Obama Administration to explore incentives and penalties to encourage private sector businesses to better protect consumer data.

NCL’s letter to Sen. Johnson urges Congress to take a closer look at the problem and corresponding solutions at a hearing. Federal agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, cyber security experts and advocacy groups of NCL can offer concrete proposals to better protect consumer data.

To read the letter, click here.

To read the white paper, click here.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit