According to The Economist, the United States has the highest rate of credit card fraud of any developed nation, a rate far, far higher, than European Union nations, as well as far higher monetary losses. This isn’t necessarily just because we have more credit card thieves, which we apparently do, but also because the United States has far more credit cards and, equally important, has lagged behind the E.U. in adopting the so-called “pin and chip” credit card that contains a microchip with security features. The “pin and chip” system means effectively that it is far more difficult to use a stolen card or card number.
American business has lagged in employing this system, although Target, the latest and largest victim of hacking and the theft of tens of millions of credit card numbers and user names, is now looking into developing and issuing credit cards with greater security features. The reason for the delay? The new systems will cost more to install and implement, because new card readers will be required.
Or, in other words, until the losses to business make it clear that it’s “cost-effective” for them, regardless of the costs and hassles to consumers, they really don’t want to adopt a new and more secure system. These are also the men and women who, not unanimously, but overwhelmingly, try every method they can to reduce their costs. They beg their consumers to “go paperless,” claiming that doing so will benefit consumers while their real reason is to reduce their own paperwork burden. They’re the same retail executives who employ part-timers so that they won’t have to pay health benefits, who cut middle-management and overwork the survivors, and who outsource overseas anything they can to reduce costs, disregarding what it does to both their employees and the economy as a whole.
Yet when it comes to reducing the burden of fraud on their consumers, most are notably silent, or even oppose any improvement because it will increase their short-term costs. Just as cleaner environmental production and distribution systems might do… or health insurance or living wages. Fancy that.