Outdated technology makes U.S. consumers easy target for credit card hackers


Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A customer prepares to sign a credit card slip at a Target store in Miami. As many as 40 million shoppers’ credit and debit cards may have been compromised by a recent hacking attack. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Experts say American credit and debit cards are especially vulnerable to hackers because the cards use an easily-duplicated magnetic strip to store information.

Most cardholders in countries outside of the U.S. have credit and debit cards that carry account information on embedded digital chips. These chips generate unique codes every time the card is used and are therefore not easily hacked.

Mallory Duncan, general counsel at the National Retail Federation told the AP that in the U.S. we are using “20th century cards against 21st century hackers.”

“The thieves have moved on but the cards have not,” she said.

This assessment comes days after the retail giant Target said credit and debit cards of 40 million shoppers may have been compromised in a massive security breach.

Target said Thursday customers who swiped their cards between Nov. 29 and Dec. 15 may have had data stolen, including credit card numbers and three-digit security codes.

Concerned your personal or account information may be compromised? Check out NewsHour’s guide on how to respond if you’re the victim of credit card theft.