7On your side: Protecting consumer credit card data - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7On your side: Protecting consumer credit card data

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It's a time when computer hackers always seem to be a step ahead of consumers and the law, but  local law enforcement and the U.S. Secret Service are working to change that.

The Target security breach is just one of many that compromised consumer credit card numbers. It's a growing problem, according to Lou Velez with the Secret Service, who spoke to local businesses.

"There's a lot of people in the drug business now realizing I can make more money creating fake credit cards than I can selling drugs, and I won't get shot," said Velez.

And when hackers get consumer credit card information from a small business, it can be devastating financially. He showed a video on what happened to a Georgia restaurant.

"We were hacked into, and the magnetic data which I didn't even know that we were storing in the hard drive was taken, and then new cards were made over the Internet," says the women who owns the restaurant.

And it was seven months before the ongoing breach was discovered. Officials say stolen data costs a lot of money. Not only is the merchant responsible for the fraudulent charges criminals make with these card numbers, but VISA may also fine the merchants acquiring bank because their customers weren't compliant in the first place.

Velez says it's critical for business owners to have updated point of sale software to make sure transactions are secure. He says the criminals are from overseas and are adept at finding any flaw that will allow them to steal consumer information.

"Eighty-five percent of cyber attacks target small businesses. Besides the Target breach, this affects everyone. No matter what kind of business you are, if you take a credit or debit card, this could happen to you," said Velez. 

There are various ways for businesses to protect themselves. He says it's important to delete any information you don't have to store and make sure you know the people you hire.

The breaches in this case has cost this small business $110,000.

"I didn't think I was at risk either but I was. I thought I had everything under control, because I had a brand new system, and I thought that my software was compliant," said the store owner.

The experts say the cost of protecting data is a cost of doing business and far less than if consumer data is compromised.

For more from the U.S. Secret Service click here.  Here's information for businesses seeking to make sure they have up-to-date computer equipment.

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