When the Target data breach occurred in late 2013, millions of Americans were at risk of fraud and identity theft - and it was the first of multiple major data breaches to hit retailers. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely all retailers have improved their security well enough to prevent a breach, and cybercriminals will probably claim at least one more victim before the end of the year.
More retailers are encrypting card numbers in their databases and installing additional secure card readers in their stores, but didn't move fast enough - so consumers aren't more secure in late 2014 than they were last year.
"If a retailer is compromised this holiday season, that announcement will probably be delayed until January," said Alphonse Pascual, Javelin Strategy & Research director of fraud and security. "For the consumer that means stepping in line at checkout or even shopping online is still tantamount to Russian roulette when it comes to using their credit and debit cards."
Not surprisingly, the National Retail Federation (NRF) believes consumers are more secure, though admits retailers are a "long way" from ensuring all payment systems are more secure.