This past Friday the Target data breach story became more troubling. The retailer announced that now as many as 70 million consumers may have had their personal information compromised. While Target continues to investigate the source of the breach, we are hearing that Congress will look into what happened. This might just be the type of event to push for higher standards for debit and credit cards, something the LSCU has been advocating for as part of our legislative agenda. This is certainly a topic of conversation that will be front and center as we head to Washington, D.C. next month for the CUNA GAC.
What makes this data breach so troubling is not only the sheer amount of people possibly affected, but also that the stolen information includes names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses. Target believes that the data stolen is partial in nature. This is good information for credit unions because any member that suspects they have been compromised will have plenty of questions. Target says that they would never ask customers to provide any personal information in an email. So if anyone has been contacted by email then they might be part of the breach even though their checking account hasn’t been compromised.
Early last week CUNA released a survey for credit unions to record how much extra that they have been doing since the breach. More than 700 credit unions have responded. What CUNA is looking for is if your call center volume has increased, have you had to issue new cards, and have you incurred hard costs already. Some of you might not have a handle on how much cost you will incur and that’s okay. CUNA will keep the survey open for a few more weeks to allow credit unions to hopefully get in front of this.
In the wake of the Target data breach, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) re-introduced his Personal Data Privacy and Security Act bill on Jan. 8. This act would require a national standard be met by businesses for customer security. This bill has been introduced every session since 2005. However, the Target data breach may have come at the right time to have the standards raised for the implementation of chip cards. This is something that many countries require and it has proven to be harder to breach. The LSCU is encouraging our Congressional delegations to sign onto the bill. Rep. Maxine Watters (D-CA) and 16 of her colleagues wrote House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) on Friday asking for a hearing on the Target data breach. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) is one of the 16 who signed and Alabama credit unions should thank her for her effort on this issue. This issue is building some serious momentum. I would expect data security issues to be our top priority by the time the GAC rolls around.
With the CUNA GAC coming up next month, filling out the survey is very important. This information will be shared with lawmakers, the media, and regulators. CUNA will also provide a state by state analysis. When we meet with lawmakers at the CUNA GAC, they will ask about our experiences. Providing real member stories will be important. We may even be asked during our State GAC visits. I hope you will take some time to fill out the survey ahead of the CUNA GAC.
Where's Patrick: I’ll be working out of the Tallahassee office this week while also spending a day in Orlando and on the Space Coast meeting with credit unions. I’ll be attending the Central Florida Chapter dinner on Wednesday. We will have our regular LEVERAGE monthly meeting on Friday. To see my complete schedule for the next two weeks, visit the LSCU Information for Credit Unions web page.