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Interim Study Focuses on Data Security and Merchant Accountability
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 7:00 AM

Data security and merchant accountability were the focus of an interim study held Thursday at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Senator Dan Newberry requested the study on behalf of Oklahoma credit unions.

Newberry said the study was particularly important because of recent events reported in which Equifax and Yahoo announced that millions of individuals had been affected by data breaches.

Testifying before the Senate Business and Commerce and Tourism Committee, Nate Webb, president of the Oklahoma Credit Union Association, said financial institutions bear the costs of these breaches, both financially and in credibility.

Gina Wilson, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Central Credit Union (OCCU), agreed with Webb. "We need stricter data requirements for merchants," she said. "They should be penalized in some form or fashion. The fallout for credit unions is going to be a little varied. As far as OCCU, the amount of calls we're taking is [extremely high]."

Wilson noted a data breach to Home Depot in 2014, which required the company to issue over 3,000 debit cards, overtime pay for call center employees, and increased calls to the call center by over 50 percent. The financial institution must cover those costs.

Steven McConnell, general counsel with Weokie Credit Union, said he sees the bill as a "great advantage to financial institutions" to further hold merchants accountable.

"The bill does provide some degree of protection to the financial institution through incentives for merchants to play by a specific set of rules," said Webb.

Thursday’s study lays the ground for the 2018 session when the legislature will continue searching for solutions.