Executives from Target and Neiman Marcus will face a public grilling on Tuesday as they are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I’ll be there, running back and forth between the hearing and a TV camera, where I’ll be translating the corporate-speak we’ll be hearing. Officials from Consumers Union and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as investigators from the Department of Justice and the Secret Service, are also expected to testify.
This is among the first of several hearings planned on Capitol Hill that will examine the recent rash of high-profile data leaks that have impacted perhaps 1 in 2 U.S adults, and have caused banks to reissue millions of credit cards. It is the first time Target and Neiman Marcus will have to explain themselves. (On Monday afternoon, banks and the National Retail Federation testified before the Senate banking committee.)
This incident has spooked consumers — some have even shied away from shopping at Target. And his has nudged the payment industry towards upgrading the entire U.S. credit card payment system, probably towards so-called EMV plastic credit cards that come with an embedded computer chip for additional security.
Expert insider tip: When everyone blah blah blahs tomorrow about the move to chip and pin EMV cards as the answer to this problem, don’t let them get away with it. Chip and pin migration would help, but it’s certainly no panacea, and it’s going to be used as a distraction ploy by everyone involved just to make consumers feel better.
The hearing also comes days before a slew of annual state-of-identity-theft reports are expected to be issued. Who wants to bet that ID theft and fraud increased last year? Also, in case you missed it in the slew of credit card fraud news, the Secret Service has indicated that there might me 20 or so retailers who suffered the same fate as Target and Nieman Marcus. The latest news involves the Michaels craft store chain, and the parent company of the Marriott hotel chain; both are investigating possible data thefts.
If you could attend the hearings, what would you ask? Is there anything that Target’s John Mulligan could say that would make you feel better about shopping at Target going forward?