WASHINGTON (12/23/14)--To help consumers avoid fraud this holiday season, and every season, the Credit Union National Association released a list of helpful tips to keep their personal information out of the hands of criminals.
"With the immense number of data breaches that occurred at retailers in 2014, and a grim forecast for 2015, it's essential to arm consumers with tips they need to protect themselves," said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. "Knowing how to protect yourself from hackers, and what to do if you get hacked, can help you keep your hard-earned money and give you peace of mind."
CUNA's www.StoptheDataBreaches.com contains a list of helpful ways for consumers to remain vigilant and protect their personal data when shopping in retail stores and online, including:
In 2014 there have been more than 744 data security breaches, a 24.8% increase over 2013 which saw 596 breaches. In fact, a recent poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that nearly half of all Americans have been notified by a credit card company, financial institution or retailer that their credit card information had possibly been stolen as part of a data breach.
Staples announced just last week that it has suffered a breach that affected 1.16 million customers. In the case of a data breach at a retailer such as Staples, credit unions are limited by law in disclosing many of the circumstances of the breach and often are not able to disclose the merchant responsible--yet the credit union is left to clean up the mess when a retail data breach occurs by informing its members of the breach, protecting their members from fraudulent charges and reissuing new credit and debit cards.
"Arming consumers with tips to protect themselves is helpful, but what's necessary to change the state of consumer protection is a change in policy," said Nussle. "Merchants are not subject to the same federal data protection standards as financial institutions, making them more susceptible to attacks.
"The best course of action to reduce data breaches would be for Congress to establish federal data-protection standards for retailers that are equal to financial institutions under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act," he said.