#SwipeSecurity - will it ever be safe to use your credit card again?

Published: Oct. 29, 2014 at 6:57 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2014 at 7:24 AM EDT
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(WTVM) - COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Data breach… after data breach… after data breach…Will it ever be safe to swipe again?

Every minute 19 people fall victim to identity theft and credit card fraud, costing financial intuitions billions of dollars.

Most of the time consumers are not responsible for the charges, or only a small amount. But still there are costs to everyone from time and inconvenience to trust in the system.

With all the recent breaches many have become leery about swiping their credit cards, wondering just who might have access to their personal information.

We are a nation of swipers, from fast food to gassing up our cars to groceries and more. We love the convenience of being able to pull out our cards and swipe, but with all that swiping it's no wonder credit card fraud and identity theft are at an all time high.

"We got hit three times this month already… [they took] about $959," said Rita Jones of Smiths Station, who was a victim of credit card fraud.

And Rita is certainly not alone. In the last year alone there have been several credit card breaches at big and small named retailers with crooks stealing millions of dollars

We asked the Georgia Governor's office of consumer protection in Atlanta about the newest and best ways for consumers to protect themselves and their money.

"We need to take and inventory and sort of ask ourselves, what do we do that fits in the category of risky behavior?" said John Sours, head of the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection.

Sours admits many people fall victim due to no fault of their own like the millions whose credit cards were hacked in recent breaches at Target and Home Depot.

Even Sours himself has been a victim of credit card fraud. In this day and age, he says we all have to be more diligent about how and who we share our personal information with.

"Safeguard secure information and secure documents think about putting them in a safe deposit box if you have them on a computer see if you can lock ‘em out so if somebody gets on your computer they can't get straight to it," said Sours.

Many are banking on new credit card chip technology to greatly improve security. By the end of 2015, 70 percent of all credit cards in the U.S. and 41 percent of all debit cards will have the security chips.

The technology has been used in Europe for years, where they pair the chip with a PIN or personal identification number. Most American banks are going with just the chip for now.

Experts say unlike the magnetic strip the chip is virtually impossible to duplicate.

"Your specific data is not transmitted from the card to the terminal it's the transaction code, so it makes it harder for the bad guy to clone or copy the card and go use the card somewhere else," said David Oliver, Senior Vice President with the Georgia Bankers Association.

Consumers seem cautiously optimistic.

"My card already has the chip in it and I know at Wal-Mart we have to slide our credit card in a different way in order for it to be accessed. If it's preventable, anything that's going to keep us safe..."

"I don't much about it technology wise but I do know you cannot out-think a thief," said Terri Baker, who was also a victim of credit card fraud. "They're gonna get it."

Baker is not so optimistic after thieves hacked not just her credit card, but her husband's, son's and daughter's after a lot of inconvenience they finally got it all cleared up. Now she watches her bill like a hawk and relies on her own security guy.

"Honestly I say a prayer right before I punch in those numbers and I say Lord please protect these numbers that's going through... that's probably my most comfort right there knowing the Lord's watching over it because I can't think of anybody better."

Join the conversation on social media - use the hashtag #SwipeSecurity.

For more information, visit this link or any of the resources below:

Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, Georgia 30374-0241.

To report fraud: (800) 525-6285 or write to address above.

To order a credit report: (800) 685-1111.

To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit: (888) 567-8688.

Website: http://equifax.com/

Experian, P.O. Box 2104, Allen, Texas 75013.

To report fraud: (888-397-3742) or write to address above.

To order a credit report: (888) 397-3742

To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit: (888) 567-8688.

Website: http://www.experian.com/

Trans Union, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, California 92634.

To report fraud: (800) 680-7289 or write to address above.

To order credit report: (800) 916-8800.

To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit: (888) 567-8688.

Website: http://www.transunion.com/

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