As local and franchise businesses install top-of-the-line credit processing software, attempting to stay a few steps ahead of identity thieves, lawmakers in Washington are considering passing a bill that would create a national data breach notification system. The thrust of the program would be to create a centralized reporting warehouse consumers and businesses could go to for more information about the latest scam or virus making the rounds. The law would also mandate entities inform their customers about breaches promptly if ever compromised.

But before legislators give it serious consideration, the National Retail Federation is imploring them to leave no stone unturned.

"The NRF says a breach notification system must not leave any holes."

In a statement issued by the world's largest retail trade association, the NRF stressed that in today's day and age, in which cyberscams are rampant, lawmakers can't afford a Band-Aid approach to countering data attacks. In short, if a program is going to be passed, each and every industry needs to be held accountable, as customers have a right to know what's happening with their sensitive financial information.

"American consumers want to know if their data has been breached no matter where the breach occurs," stressed Paul Martino, vice president and senior policy counsel at the NRF. "No industry should be allowed to keep its data breaches secret."

30 states have considered legislation
Several states already have data breach notification laws in place, including Delaware, Maryland and just recently New Mexico, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Since 2017, nearly two-thirds of state governments have at least considered bills that deal with cybersecurity awareness. No overarching federal law exists as of yet, even though the NRF has long called for a uniform national data breach bill.

Cyber incidents are not only more damaging, they're proliferating, in part because more people and businesses have an online presence. Last year, a whopping 84 percent of companies experienced fraudulent activity that used the internet as a means of entry, according to Kroll.

Hearing on cybersecurity held Feb. 14
The frequency of these attacks is part of the reason why Congress appears to be taking the issue more seriously. Indeed, the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit recently convened on Capitol Hill, where discussions were had on how the public might best deter cyberwarfare.

"Every year, the number and severity of data breaches seems to increase, and more Americans seem to become victims of fraud and identity theft," warned Blaine Kuetkemeyer, chairman of the subcommittee. "Consumers are left not only facing financial harm but also the daunting task of restoring the integrity of their personal information."

The ideal strategy is prevention. For more than 20 years, 911 Software has provided trusted payment processing solutions to tens of thousands of merchants. We're constantly refining our systems to help merchants of all types remain vigilant in today's highly connected age.