When I was growing up in a small town in New England, we seldom locked our doors at night or when we were out. Some years later, however, we had a string of burglaries in our neighborhood. In response, a group got together and invited a police officer to speak to us about home security and how to protect ourselves from further break-ins.
There was a big range of security options available, though the officer said the bottom line was surprisingly simple: We didn't really need the best option – we just needed better protection than the family next door.
Why? Burglars usually prefer to hit the easiest target.
This bit of small town wisdom may be helpful following the theft of information from about 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target stores late last year.
Like the residents of my old neighborhood, retailers are looking for ways to beef up security. Target Corp. is pushing for the adoption of ID-protection technology that's widely used in Europe and Canada. But, despite the widely publicized data breach, it's still not clear if the U.S. will embrace the chip-based credit card technology.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Target scrapped a program in 2004 that used chip-protection technology because of various issues such as slower check-out speeds. And a nationwide chip card network would cost billions to install.
Until they make a decision, the same security issue will apply for American credit card users as my home town. As long as our credit card technology lags behind, the U.S. will continue to be dogged by identity thieves because it's the easiest target.
Our national merchants and banks need to take the necessary steps to protect personal information from credit cards. By doing so, they'd keep up with our national currency, which changes regularly in an attempt to stay ahead of the counterfeiters. States also continue to improve driver’s licenses and IDs to stay a step ahead of forgers.
A new credit card protection network doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be better than that of our European neighbors.
What do you think?