What the BuySecure Initiative Means for Consumers

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President Obama signed a new Executive Order dubbed the “BuySecure Initiative,” which orders the federal government to lead by example in securing transactions and sensitive data. The plan is aimed at improving the federal government’s payment security protocols, and accelerating the transition to stronger security technologies and payment tools.

Here’s what you need to know about the BuySecure Initiative…

What is BuySecure?

Under BuySecure, the Federal Government will make an enterprise-wide transition to more secure credit, debit, and other payment cards. All retail payment card terminals at federal facilities will also be upgraded to ones that accept PIN-and-chip credit cards.

That involves upgrades of retail payment terminals at government locations like the passport office, VA canteens and national parks. Institutions like the United States Postal Service have already made this transition within tens of thousands of retail facilities across the country.

The initiative calls for all government credit cards, as well as government debit cards like Direct Express, to be upgraded to PIN-and-chip technology. That means that federal employees who use government-issued credit cards, as well as those who receive pension payments, will soon be issued these secure forms of credit cards. The same applies for other types of government-issued plastic that may be used to dispense such things as veteran benefits, Social Security payments, or IRS refunds.

The new systems will meet the global security standard for microchip-enabled credit cards, and will store card numbers instead of unencrypted magnetic strips that we currently see.

Over the next 18 months, government agencies will provide additional security so that any personal data digitally released by the government to a U.S. citizen will go through multiple tests for authentication. This will ensure that every citizen’s private information is protected by the most secure methods possible.

Streamlines Fraud Reporting

The Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, and the Social Security Administration are also working to make the fraud reporting process as easy as possible for Americans who have experienced credit card fraud.

The new mandate provides additional support to the Federal Trade Commission to develop a new one-stop resource for victims of identity theft. The resources will be located at IdentityTheft.gov, which will streamline the reporting and corrective processes with the credit bureaus. Over the next 24 months, the federal government plans to halve the amount of time it takes consumers to remedy the average case of identity theft.

Federal Security Summit

President Obama also announced a White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, which will bring together major stakeholders on consumer financial protection issues to discuss how to further protect American consumers and their financial data.

More than 100 million Americans have fallen victim to data breaches over the last year, with millions suffering from credit card fraud and identity crimes. The good news is that when Great Britain converted to PIN-and-chip, fraud related to retail store credit card transactions was slashed by 70%.

The goal is to not just ensure the security of doing retail business with the government, but also to help drive the market towards a swifter adoption of stronger security standards. The President renewed his call to Congress to enact overdue cybersecurity legislation, particularly by clarifying what obligations companies have when sensitive data within their possession is breached.

Corporate Changes in the Works

Home Depot, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart will be rolling out secure PIN-and-chip compatible card terminals in all of their stores, and most of that infrastructure will be operative by early next year. In January, American Express will start a program to support small businesses upgrading their point of sale terminals to more secure standards.

Visa says they will also launch a new program to educate consumers and merchants on PIN-and-chip cards and other secure technologies. Their plan will be to send experts to 20 major cities in a national public information campaign.

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