One of the biggest news stories of the 2013 holiday season is the Target information breach that occurred between Black Friday and December 15th, unfortunately, cybercrime and credit card security breaches increased during the holiday season as reported by ThreatMetrix in their latest investigation. Reports from Target are that information from nearly 40 million debit card credit cards was hacked via software that reads the magnetic strips on the cards. These are reports of only stores in the United States; Canadian Target stores have not yet acknowledged if the information breaches affect them.
Sadly, this is a common occurrence with brick-and-mortar retailers. Many of these incidences do not make the news. The information theft is the second largest credit card breach in the United States after retailer TJX Cos. (TJ Maxx and its sister stores) announced in 2007 that at least 45.7 million debit and credit card users were exposed to hackers.
Where the High Risk Is…
This is scary, not only for customers but for business owners as well. As a high or low-risk merchant business owner, you need to make sure that your processing software and terminals are secure, and that the software is updated to the latest standards. It is also wise to already have fraud controls and procedures in place, to help hinder these incidents from happening to your business.
While today’s reports are that an overseas company hacked Target’s terminals, that isn’t always the case. An employee could have installed malicious software into the terminal database, or an unexpecting employee could have clicked on a link, ad, or other innocent-looking item and it installed the malicious software.
While it is up to the business owner and their team to make sure that their software and terminals are protected from hackers and viruses, it is also up to the customer to keep an eye on their banking and credit card statements. While it is normal to check your statements monthly as they come in the mail, it is wise to check and see if your bank or credit card institute has an online site to check transactions. By catching the hacking early, many people could be saved the trouble of having the file claims with their bank or credit card institute. You can also see if your bank has an automated telephone number to call and check your balance to make sure there is not any discrepancy in your account amount.
Every business owner should keep a watch on their story, as its consequences could impact the way people pay at the register. Be sure to reassure your customers that your terminals are secure and that the software is up-to-date. Also, be sure to monitor any employee if they have to update or install software regarding terminals, as well as business computers in general.
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