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Congress Urged To Consider 'Chip & Pin' Credit Cards To Fight Future Security Breaches

WASHINGTON (WJZ)--Congress is looking at new ways to keep your personal credit card information safe after recent high-profile security breaches at some of America's top retailers.

Mary Bubala reports on lagging new technology that could decrease credit card theft.

Tuesday, executives from Target and Neiman Marcus testified on Capitol Hill.

Target's chief financial officer told Senate lawmakers what's being done to prevent another security breach at the massive retailer.

"We are undertaking an end-to-end forensic review of our entire network.  Target is accelerating our investment in chip technology for our Target Red cards and for stores' point of sales terminals," said John Mulligan, Target CFO.

Target's security is under the microscope after hackers stole credit and debit card information from about 40 million customers.  Neiman Marcus also recently disclosed cyber thieves hacked its customers' data.

"The malware captured payment card data in real time, right after a card was swiped and had sophisticated features that were difficult to detect," said Michael Kinston Neiman Marcus Group Senior VP.

As Congress works on new laws to protect consumers, there are new calls to modernize credit cards.

Current credit cards use easy to hack magnetic strip technology from the 1960s. Many want more secure pin & chip cards.

"Chip and pin is the next technology in America.  But banks have not even proposed that we go to the chip and pin, which has been in use in Europe for years," said Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. Public Interest Research Groups.

Dr. Gloria Phillips-Wren, department chair of Information Systems at Loyola University, actually owns a chip-based credit card for international travel, but she believes it shifts the liability from the bank and merchant to the consumer if there's fraud.

"For example in the UK, the consumer now assumes the liability for fraudulent transactions because the assumption is it's your card, you have the accountability for it and if you give your pin away, for example, you are liable," Phillips-Wren said.

Bankers say the microchip technology would cost billions to implement, but Target and other merchants are moving in that direction as they issue new cards to consumers.

Recent polls show nearly half of all people surveyed are extremely concerned about the safety of their personal credit card information.

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