After all the reports of credit card data breaches over the past couple of months, one thing is abundantly clear – credit and debit card data is vulnerable. The massive data breach at Target is said to be the byproduct of software created by a Russian teen. Now millions of Americans find themselves wondering if their data is out there just waiting to be compromised.
But these recent breaches are not the first time that systems have been hacked and data stolen. I have had free credit monitoring for three of the last four years based on data breaches where my data was part of the data accessed. I have concluded from my personal experience and the breaches I know of that there are no impenetrable data protection systems. Those who intimately understand these systems also understand that even the best systems have vulnerabilities.
Breaches are becoming more commonplace. Those who do not closely monitor their credit and debit card expenditures and credit reports are in harm’s way. There are so many ways that criminals have found to access your data that you should operate under the assumption that your data could be stolen any day. These are the times we live in.
I predict that all of this data theft is going to have a profound ripple effect on society. I am concerned about the implications this will carry for folks’ credit scores when wrongful charges are made on their existing cards or new cards are opened in their names. So much is now tied into our credit scores – loan and insurance rates, apartment rentals, banking accounts, jobs, etc. How will that connectivity affect the innocent folks whose credit scores are negatively affected? These days, data thieves are doing more than stealing money from folks. These days, data thieves are potentially stealing quality of life.
I predict that legislators will need to step in and mandate that industries that use credit score data must de-couple that data from some of these decisions. I predict this massive data theft could throw our economy into a tailspin. Major retailers are in trouble and absorbing the immediate costs and reputation hits. It is only a matter of time until that results in job loss. Then as folks’ credit is affected spending will decrease. As spending decreases more jobs will be lost. I can see the downhill slide so clearly.
I think it is time for us to face some harsh realities about what the future holds in regard to data breaches. It is time to take proactive measures to limit the impact on folks’ lives. A year of credit monitoring is fine and well, but in the big picture it is the equivalent of using a garden hose to try and put out a five-alarm fire.
Day one thousand three hundred and nine of the new forty – obla di obla da