Consumers will continue to pay for data breaches

I was reading a CNN Money article on why retailers aren’t all that motivated to protect your data as vigorously as they are to harvest your data. It would seem protecting your data would mean limiting how much data they can collect on you.  It’s sad to say that is more important to them than protecting your credit card information.

Today’s standards in the United States are fairly basic and not really designed to protect data against the current efforts of hackers. Sure, converting to chip and pin credit cards will help, but that will require a substantial investment by credit card issuers and retailers. Even if the federal government passes stricter consumer protection laws, we are probably years away from any meaningful impact against the onslaught of data theft.

So where does this leave the consumer?

Undoubtedly it sticks them with the tab. Banks and retailers rarely make substantial investments that aren’t ultimately passed along to the end consumer in the way of fees, higher interest rates or higher product prices.  If the Feds mandate strictly security policies, well, you know who always pays for that – taxpayers.  I can already see the banking and retail lobbyists lining up with their hands out for a subsidy and chanting the “too big to fix” mantra.

Regardless, it comes down to individual vigilance by the consumers to protect themselves. Just assuming your bank, government or favorite retailer will watch over your data is a poor personal protection strategy. However, it doesn’t mean we have to sit down and take it on the chin.  We can vote with our wallets and chose to do business with companies that will hopefully separate themselves from the masses and voluntarily implement tighter security.

Then again, we could just opt to pay with cash.