Credit unions: Anti-hacking bill should be ‘priority’

A credit union trade group is calling on Congress to pass legislation to combat some hackers as soon as lawmakers return to Washington next month. 

“When Congress reconvenes in September, legislative action to address data breaches that occur at the hands of retailers must be a priority,” National Association of Federal Credit Union Senior Vice President Carrie Hunt wrote in a letter to congressional leaders on Thursday.

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The current lack of a federal law requiring stores to maintain some data security protections or notify consumers when their information is at risk “is having a huge impact on consumers everywhere and small financial institutions like credit unions struggle to make consumers whole in the wake of breaches they have no control over and didn’t contribute to,” she said.

The letter comes on the heels of news that 51 UPS locations were hacked as well as the recent attack at a major hospital operator that resulted in the theft of about 4.5 million patients’ data. 

“These numerous breaches should lead to serious pause for lawmakers, as the number of data breaches are broader and more frequent,” Hunt wrote.

Despite an initial flurry of talk and activity on Capitol Hill after Target suffered a massive breach affecting up to 110 million shoppers last year, there has so far been little movement for some type of data security bill in Congress.

Squabbling between congressional committees and disagreement over how far a bill should go have sidelined the issue for the time being, and it’s not likely to come back in the short period lawmakers have left before the midterm elections in November.

Retailers and financial institutions have often traded barbs over data breaches, with each pointing fingers for responsibility when stores get hacked or fraud occurs on people’s debit and credit cards.