New Castle News

Editorials

December 31, 2013

Our Opinion: Having trust in credit

Target hacking incident creates consumer concerns

NEW CASTLE — When computer hackers steal large quantities of credit card information, what’s the economic impact?

Take, for instance, recent reports that credit and debit card information held by the Target store chain was hacked. About 40 million customers had the security of their cards compromised as a result.

On the plus side, customers whose cards were stolen won’t have to pay if someone uses their numbers. Credit card holders are protected in these circumstances.

However, Target customers must now go through the hassle of canceling cards and getting new ones. Plus, they will have to make an effort to determine if they used their cards at Target during the time frame covered by the hacking incident.

Target responded to the bad news — which erupted late in the Christmas shopping season — with an offer of 10 percent discounts on all merchandise. That may satisfy some customers, but others may be leery of shopping at Target.

Of course, this is not the first time a business has been hacked and vast amounts of credit card information stolen. Perhaps people get used to such reports, and because they don’t lose money directly, any inconvenience is deemed tolerable.

Still, such hacking costs everyone. The losses associated with any thefts, ranging from stolen merchandise to the paperwork necessary to clean up the mess, isn’t handled by waving a magic wand. In one way or another, the tab finds its way to consumers.

We suppose these hacking incidents provide a case for making store purchases with cash. Yet the success of credit cards stems in large part from the convenience they offer. Let’s face it; they aren’t going away.

So are mass hackings every now and then going to become part of the cost of doing business with credit cards? Are there things companies can — and should — do to beef up their corporate security?

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