Dan Berger, the president and CEO of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, said last week that the recent data breach at Target should serve as a “wake-up call to consumers and policymakers alike.”
“Every time consumers choose to use plastic cards for payments at a register or make online payments from their accounts, they put themselves at risk,” Berger said in a blog on The Huffington Post. “Many are not aware that their financial and personal identities could be stolen or that fraudulent charges could appear on their accounts, in turn damaging their credit scores and reputations.”
The security breach, which affected nearly 40 million consumer card accounts, was just one of the many that have occurred in recent years.
Berger said that while financial institutions are subject to data security regulations under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the standards do not apply to retailers and other entities.
“Credit unions suffer steep losses in re-establishing member safety after a data breach occurs,” Berger said.
Berger called on Congress to pass legislation that would require retailers and other entities that store consumer data to adhere to data security standards, establish security policies, notify servicers of breaches and pay for the costs of breaches that occur in their systems.
“Bottom line: NAFCU urges Congress to make the issue of data security a priority in 2014 and enforce a stricter standard on merchants and retailers to protect consumers from breaches that compromise their financial and personal information,” Berger said. “Based on current standards, the question is not if consumers’ data will be compromised again, but when.”