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Seen At 11: New ‘Tokenization’ System Could Put An End To Identity Theft

Credit-card machine (file/credit: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Credit-card machine (file/credit: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — With so much talk of data breaching, hacking, and identity theft many people are concerned about their personal information.

We’ve all hear recently about massive breaches of consumer information.

“I was pretty frustrated when I found out that my information had been stolen,” fraud victim, Chandler Nason said.

Like thousands of other people Nason, a college student, was a victim. She was billed for hundreds of dollars worth of video games that she didn’t actually buy.

Now, a new system could put an end to this type of fraud for good. It’s called ‘Tokenization.’

“We anticipate that tokenization technology will be very widespread around the world in the coming months,” Jason Oxman, Electronic Transactions Association, said.

In its simplest form tokenization works like a secret code substituting symbols for important information like your credit card number, or social security number, CBS 2’s Maurice Dubois explained.

If there is a security breach, only the symbols or ‘tokens’ as they are called can be stolen. Your personal information will remain a mystery to the thief.

“A token is a piece of information, an algorithm if you will, numbers and symbols that represent a card account number,” Oxman explained.

Experts explained that the tokens are valid for a limited time and that they can be used when making a purchase online, over the phone, or in person.

Only the bank and payment processors will know the real account information and employees will not have access to it.

“Even if somebody is able to breach a retailer, for example, and get access to those systems all they’d be able to see are these single use tokens that don’t allow them to produce counterfeit cards or do anything else to steal account numbers,” Oxman said.

Credit card issuers, payment processors, and merchants are all working together to create a standardized tokenization system, experts said.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, we mistakenly included Verizon among a group of companies that had experienced security breaches with customer information.

In fact, Verizon actually reports on data breaches in its annual Data Breach Investigations Report.

We apologize for the error.