President Obama has signed an Executive Order leading the way for greater protection for Americans from data breaches and identity theft. He also announced that a number of companies including Home Depot Target, Walgreen and Walmart are accelerating their move to more secure chip and PIN credit card use at their stores. Although regulations that would encourage retailers to switch to these smart cards no later than October of 2015, these companies are planning on completing the move to smart card readers by January of 2015 with Walmart already leading the way. Also starting in January Citi and FICO are joining together to make credit scores available free to Citi Bank credit cards. Already providing free credit scores are Discover, Barclaycard, Pentagon Credit Union and First National Bank of Omaha. It is hoped that more banks will follow this example. Under the President’s order the reporting of credit card fraud will be made quicker and easier within two years. Finally, the President announced that the Department of Justice and the FBI are working to improve greater information sharing between hacked companies and affected consumers with the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance’s Internet Fraud Alert System.
The President’s actions are a good first step and they do indicate a greater willingness of businesses to work with the government in order to better protect consumer data. However, much remains to be done and Congressional action is definitely required to improve the laws necessary to protect consumers from data breaches and identity theft. However, it is good to see the President taking the lead on this important issue. Meanwhile, the primary responsibility for protecting ourselves from identity theft still rests with all of us as individuals. I urge you to pick up a copy of my new book “Identity Theft Alert” which provides simple steps you can take to dramatically improve your chances of avoiding identity theft. You can order the book from Amazon by clicking on the link on the right hand side of this page. I also urge you to read scamicide.com every day so you can become aware of the latest scams and identity theft schemes.