Target hack hits home: Columnist is among fraud victims

An identity thief ran up nearly $2,000 in bogus charges at Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry's on Saturday -- just hours after I published a column decrying the weak efforts of businesses to protect customer data.

I'd appreciate the irony if I wasn't so cheesed off.

American Express contacted me to say that my card number was used to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of goodies at leading luxury stores.

The thief made off with the loot before my card could be shut down.

I received news of my fourth -- collect them all -- incident of ID theft on the same day I wrote a column saying that business have the tools and know-how to keep hackers at bay, but they don't effectively use them.

Why? As Nick Mancini, a partner at Tech Consultants in Woodland Hills put it, "It's expensive."

I proposed nationwide policies that clearly define what information can be collected and stored by businesses and the steps that must be followed to secure such info.

I also said lawmakers should enact financial penalties for security breaches. Such penalties could vary from $25 for each customer for small businesses to $500 a customer for large firms.

In Target's case, that would mean a fine of as much as $55 billion.

I was serious when I wrote that, and I'm twice as serious now.

The AmEx rep told me the company is seeing a surge in fraud reports as a result of the Target hack.

Count me among them.


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