WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Secret Service is charged with watching the president’s back, but who’s watching his wallet?
When his credit card was declined last month while dining in New York, President Barack Obama wondered if he had become a victim of identity theft.
“It turned out, I guess I don’t use it enough,” Obama said Friday at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“They thought there was some fraud going on,” he said, chatting while announcing a government plan to tighten security for debit cards that transfer federal benefits like Social Security to millions of Americans.
“I was trying to explain to the waitress ‘No, I really think that I’ve been paying my bills.”’
Fortunately first lady Michelle Obama was able to whip out a credit card they could use.
Employees at Estela, the New York restaurant where Obama dined on Sept. 24 while attending the U.N. General Assembly, said they couldn’t discuss the credit card issue, the Associated Press reported.
Photos of the president’s order had been posted on the restaurant’s Instagram page but have since been taken down. The food blog, Epicurious, captured the images and detailed the order in a Sept. 25 post, saying the first couple ate “two orders of endive salad and burrata with salsa verde, tomatoes, and salt cod croquettes.”
“Even I’m affected by this,” he said.
Last Friday, Kmart became the latest retailer to announce a data breach in its payment systems.
A day earlier, Dairy Queen announced that 395 of its locations – including several in the Tri-State Area, had been affected by a data breach that left credit and debit card numbers vulnerable.
A week earlier, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said a data breach affected 76 million households and 7 million small businesses that use its banking services.
Last month, Home Depot confirmed that 56 million credit and debit cards were likely affected by a data breach the breach between April and September at stores in the U.S. and Canada. The breach amounted to the second largest for a retailer on record.
In December of last year, Target Corp. disclosed that about 40 million credit and debit cards may have been affected by the data breach that happened between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, just as the holiday shopping season was shifting into high gear.
The UPS Store, Michaels, SuperValu, P.F. Chang’s restaurants, and Neiman Marcus have also been affected by data breaches this year.
Obama signed an executive order Friday creating a new plan called BuySecure. Cards issued by the federal government will now have an internal chip replacing magnetic strips to reduce the potential for fraud.
In addition, the government will apply the security chips and personal identification numbers, called PINS, that replace signatures to all existing and newly issued government credit cards, Obama said. Payment terminals at federal government facilities will be equipped to handle cards with the new technology.
Obama’s executive order also calls for the government to take new measures to help victims of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission will develop a new website for consumers to report identity theft and remedy errors with credit reporting.
And Obama called on Congress to enact a single national standard for retailers to notify consumers of data breaches, to replace a patchwork of state laws. Proposals have languished in Congress.
Obama noted that Home Depot Inc., Target Corp., Walgreen Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plan to install payment terminals in their stores equipped to handle cards with digital security chips and PINS.
Obama also cited a plan by American Express Co. to support small businesses that upgrade their payment terminals with more secure standards, and a program by payments processor Visa Inc. to inform consumers and merchants about the new technologies.
In the wake of the massive data breaches, banks and retailers have sped the adoption of digital chips for credit and debit cards. They’ve set a deadline of October 2015 for wide use of chips in cards and payment terminals.
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