New study finds retail data breaches are scaring off shoppers

Ever since the massive data breach that hit Target stores last December, compromising over 100 million customer credit and debit cards, the country seemingly hasn't been able to go more than a few weeks without a new cyber theft incident making headlines. Neiman Marcus, Michaels, P.F. Chang's, eBay, Snapchat and Adobe are just a small sample of the businesses that have been struck by hackers over the past year, opening up millions of Americans to the risk of identity theft — more often than not without them ever knowing about it until months after the fact. 

Now this trend is having a very tangible effect on shoppers. With Black Friday and the holiday shopping season just under a month away now, retailers hoping for the extra burst in sales usually associated with this time of year may be setting themselves up for disappointment. A new survey conducted by finds that 45 percent of respondents were either unlikely or unwilling to spend money at a store that had previously been compromised by a data breach.

Businesses are taking notice of this and ratcheting up their anti-cyber theft measures, a far cry from just a year ago where many major companies routinely dismissed the threat of data breaches.

"We have clearly dialed up our focus on data security," Brian Cornell, the newly appointed CEO of Target, tells USA Today. "We recognize how important this is […] We are very focused and committed to making sure we are managing data as carefully as possible."

In many of these incidents, the culprit was malware installed into retailers' point-of-sale systems that would copy the data of credit or debit cards as they were swiped, and then transmit that information back to identity thieves. It's more imperative than ever that businesses upgrade their credit card processor systems to ensure their customers' purchases are safe and secure.

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