In Europe, credit cards store encrypted information digitally on embedded computer chips, which generate a unique code every time the card is swiped. Card fraud has dropped in Europe but continues to rise in the United States. Security experts say that’s because the magnetic stripe on our credit and debit cards is a decades-old technology that is too easy to copy.
Target is telling customers that they won’t be responsible for fraudulent, unauthorized charges and is discounting purchases to placate rattled consumers. JPMorgan Chase has limited the amount of cash withdrawals available to Target customers as a precaution. On the legal front, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is demanding a federal probe into the breach, at least four state attorneys general have sought answers from Target, and class-action lawsuits from consumers are underway.
But acting after the fact is not enough. We live in a plastic society, so it is unrealistic to ask consumers to not use debit or credit cards. It is, however, entirely reasonable to demand that banks and retailers do much more to protect customers.
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