Banks are imposing tight debit card restrictions during the last minutes of the holiday shopping season — which surely won't infuriate parents, travelers and last minute shoppers — because of Target's recent massive data breach.
Last Thursday the retail giant confirmed that hackers compromised over 40 million debit and credit cards over the first three weeks of the holiday season. Using malware to lift shoppers' personal information through the company's network of card machines, hackers left a giant mess for Target and the banks to clean up, during the year's most important shopping season.
Following the security breach, JPMorgan Chase announced debit card restrictions for the two million affected cardholders. As the Christmas season winds down, those users will only be able to withdraw $100 a day and spend no more than $300 — unless they visit one of the bank's branches kept open to help Target victims receive new cards. Reuters reports other major banks are increasing security measures, but none as vigilant or open as JPMorgan.
No one knows how hackers installed the malware on Target's system, but this scandal has made it clear that American shoppers are an easy target. Much of the card information stolen from Target showed up on underground marketplaces, the kind that hawk credit and debit card info for nefarious purposes.
American debit cards lack important security updates adopted by the rest of the modern world. "We are using 20th century cards against 21st century hackers," Mallory Duncan, general counsel at the National Retail Federation, told USA Today. Other countries have debit cards with a special chip that creates a unique code for every transaction, making it nearly impossible for hackers to crack. The traditional magnetic strip is an outdated and makes simple work for modern hackers.
Over the weekend, Target offered a 10 percent discount as a show of good faith for those who had their personal banking information stolen. Some residents weren't impressed: a number of class action lawsuits against Target have already appeared. Nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like litigation.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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