Who Protects Americans from Credit Theft and Fraud?

By: Roger A Lee

Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Romania have become the home of major credit card theft and hackers. Groups and Organized Crime through the old USSR countries is running rampant. Graft, strong-arming and payoffs allow these groups to continue their international theft. Recently, hackers from Eurasian countries have accessed Sony PlayStation member's data and Citibank account holder's data.

It is hard for a consumer to protect their data and stop fraud, when they are resting quietly in their homes at night, when thieves on the other side of the world are stealing their account information from providers and merchants who have not done enough to protect this data.

To date no merchant has been held accountable or responsible for data that has been stolen from their systems. They blame hackers and organized crime. But the question has never been answered, what level of security a merchant or provider or a financial institution has to provide. There are no laws covering the notification of persons who have had their data stolen. In most cases the thefts or hacks are handled internally and no one knows anything else.

A year later then a person's ID has been stolen and used, they cannot go back to the source and hold them responsible.

It is similar with the credit agencies, who could install a simple additional layer of security to make sure that a person's credit files were not being accessed without permission, but these additional security levels are costly and lawyers argue by becoming involved in providing security or notifying persons, that the business are accepting some level of blame and opening themselves to lawsuits.

Recently, VISA and MasterCard and Euro pay, have agreed to begin using the new chip and pin system, which will help reduce theft and fraudulent use, by installing computer chips in all cards instead of magnetic strips and requiring and PIN number be used with all purchases, like you do at an ATM. This should help reduce some of the problems, but there are a lot of ways, criminals use the data they steal.

U.S. law authorities have joined efforts in the fight against international fraud by setting up a number of global headquarters. Both the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have established operations throughout Europe. Most recently, the Secret Service opened offices in Tallinn and Estonia adding to its already established operations in the Ukraine. The FBI has joined efforts with law enforcement agencies in Australia, Germany and Britain recently added additional operations in the Netherlands, Estonia, Ukraine and Romania. Despite the claims that most of these hacking jobs originate overseas, the fact remains that credit cardholders expect and hold U.S. companies responsible for ensuring that their security platforms cannot be penetrated from any point. Where the hacking originates the companies we do business with are in the US and the data is stored in the US.

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Barry Norman is a contributor to and blogger at firstcredit.net. For over ten years FirstCredit.net has provided consumers free information helping them make sense of credit cards and the financial industry. Whether you are a longtime cardholder or looking for your first credit card, FirstCredit.net can help you make informed decisions.

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