Expert: Expect Your Financial Data to Be Hacked [AUDIO]
If you use a credit or debit card and you don't think your personal information is going to be stolen during a big company breach in the coming months and years - think again.
Cyber security experts are warning that more big retail stores will become targeted by hackers, similar to what happened to Target in November, unless the entire credit card system used in the United States is changed.
"Hackers are always going to go for the weakest link and they're always going to go for the largest number of people, and as one vertical toughens up, they turn their sights on whatever they think is the next best vertical they can devote to," said Adam Levin, the chairman and founder of Identity Theft 911.
He said the pattern will continue because magnetic stripes on the back of credit and debit cards make it easy to lift personal data
A much more secure Chip and PIN credit card has been developed, but it's not being used in this country right now, and it probably won't be for at least several years. "This is where the data is contained in a microchip on the card, and the code changes with each transaction," Levin said.
So why won't the more secure Chip and PIN be quickly phased in?
"It's going to cost several billion dollars for the retailers to replace their older magnetic stripe reading card machines, and it's also going to cost billions of dollars for the credit card companies and the issuers to actually produce the card with the chip, so unfortunately while this game of chicken goes on, consumers are put in harms way," Levin said.
What this means, stressed Levin, is that "every store will be breached at some point, and every consumer will suffer an identity theft. The third reality in life is the breach - first death, then taxes and now breaches."
He said consumers can protect themselves by carefully monitoring all of their credit card accounts. "Consumers have to check their accounts, their credit card accounts, their debt card accounts on a daily basis to make absolutely sure that every transaction they see is yours."