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NAFCU: Credit Unions Pay High Price for Data Breaches

The National Association of Federal Credit Unions’ (NAFCU) February Economic & CU Monitor survey found that credit unions, and by extension their 96 million members, are paying a high price for retailers’ data breaches. NAFCU estimates that the recent Target data breach could end up costing the credit union community nearly $30 million. Among those surveyed, the average cost for the Target data breach was $45,000.

“The survey findings are staggering. Credit unions are being hit by a double whammy in terms of numbers of possible data breaches and costs while they continue to pick up the tab for retailers who are not subject to the same high level of data security standards,” said NAFCU Chief Economist and Director of Research David Carrier. “It is ironic that despite the ample rules in place to ensure data protection standards at financial institutions like credit unions, merchants and retailers are not held accountable for data breaches. Cybercriminals will continue to capitalize on this double standard and wreak havoc with consumers and our economy.”

NAFCU’s Economic & CU Monitor on data security reported:

  • Respondents were alerted to a possible breach 263 times on average in 2013, and the average amount spent on data security measures was $158,600.
  • Respondents reported an average of $152,000 for data breaches in 2013. The median cost was $59,000.
  • The bulk of these costs were related to fraud losses and investigations (46.7 percent), followed by reissue costs (34.4 percent) and monitoring costs (19 percent). Reissuing cards takes 7 days, on average, and costs $5 per card.
  • Almost half (42 percent) of respondents confirmed that their reputation had been harmed due to a merchant data breach.
  • Survey respondents indicated that an average of 10,300 cards were affected by merchant data breaches in 2013.

NAFCU was the first financial services trade association to weigh in on this issue on Capitol Hill and urged Congress to take action and set national data security standards for retailers and merchants. Financial institutions, including credit unions, have been subject to standards on data security since 1999 under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. However, retailers and other entities that handle sensitive personal financial data are not. So, when a data breach occurs, financial institutions bear a significant burden as the issuers of payment cards used by millions of consumers.

NAFCU is urging Congress to pass S. 1927, the “Data Security Act of 2014,” by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo. This bill leaves intact the federal standards already imposed on financial institutions and seeks to extend the protection further, by setting national standards for all merchants and retailers to follow in protecting data, providing timely breach notification and paying their share of the clean-up when breaches occur.

NAFCU’s Economic and CU Monitor is a member-only monthly e-newsletter of the latest macroeconomic and financial trends affecting today's credit unions, including trend data among NAFCU member federal credit unions.

The National Association of Federal Credit Unions is the only national organization that focuses exclusively on federal issues affecting credit unions, representing its members before the federal government and the public.

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