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NRF stresses collaborative approach to reduce fraud, PIN-and-chip adoption

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation on Monday urged Congress to take a comprehensive approach as it contemplates a national response to criminal cyber attacks in which millions of consumers’ credit and debit card numbers were stolen. NRF said retailers are willing to do their part to improve security, but that banks and card companies must also take major steps to shore up the current fraud-prone payments system.

“Rather than resort to blame and shame, the parties should work together to ensure that the data breach is remedied and steps are taken to prevent and mitigate future breaches.”
 said NRF senior VP and general counsel Mallory Duncan. “

Duncan went on to say that while retailers have every reason to want to see fraud reduced, they have only a portion of the ability to make it happen.

“We did not design the [payments] system, we do not configure the cards and we do not issue the cards,” he said. “We will work to effectively upgrade the system, but we cannot do it alone.”

Duncan was scheduled to testify Monday afternoon before a hearing on data security being held by a subcommittee of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. In testimony prepared for delivery at the hearing, Duncan said the United States is under constant criminal attack from sophisticated cybercriminals – largely located overseas – who target financial institutions, manufacturers, public utilities, and other businesses, not just retailers.

“This is a continuous battle against determined fraudsters,” he said. “Every party in the payment system, financial institutions, networks, processors, retailers and consumers, has a role to play in reducing fraud.”

In the short term, Duncan said the banking industry needs to replace current cards that store consumer data on 1960s-era magnetic strips, and have users sign their name with modern cards that encrypt data on an embedded microchip and require use of a secret personal identification number (PIN). Instead, banks and card companies have pushed so-called EMV – Europay, MasterCard and Visa – proprietary cards that use a chip but remain open to fraud by allowing the use of a signature. Duncan said replacement of easily forged signatures with a PIN-and-chip card is essential to security.

Duncan urged the United States to look beyond the payment card industry’s (PCI) security standards and proposed EMV cards, and embrace a more secure and technologically advanced payments system that is as innovative as it is competitive.

In the longer term, Duncan said further improvements, such as point-to-point encryption of data, “tokenization” of transactions and mobile payments offer potential solutions to better protect consumers.

Duncan also urged Congress to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which would make it easier for the commercial sector to share information about cyber threats and ensure that cybercrimes are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. He said NRF also wants Congress to replace the varying data breach notification laws currently on the books in 46 states and the District of Columbia with a single, uniform nationwide standard and bolster law enforcement agencies’ abilities to combat cyber attacks.

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ECRM: Retail circular advertising trends, January 2014

BY CSA STAFF

ECRM compared retail circular advertising in January 2013 versus January 2014 and noted trends occurring across top retail chains. The home improvement retailers appear to have reversed course somewhat. In previous months, Home Depot focused on smaller, denser circulars while Lowe’s typically featured many pages with few ads on each. While this is still generally true, Home Depot saw a moderate 25% increase in circular page count and Lowe’s doubled its number of ads per page and per circular. The only other retailer that saw such extreme year-over-year changes was Toys “R” Us, which focused its January 2013 efforts online and did not run any circulars. This year, however, the retailer ran a short six-page circular pushing a storewide clearance.

Outside of these two channels, there was not much change from last January. Kohl’s was the only retailer to experience a decrease for each of these metrics and was the only retailer to see a drop in ad blocks per page. Walmart saw moderate increases in ads per page and per circular while page count remained constant, leading to slightly denser circulars.


About ECRM’s Business Intelligence

ECRM’s Ad Comparisons technology captures promotional data from the top U.S. and Canadian retailers in all major markets. Ad Comparisons captures more than 40 metrics for each ad block and provides hundreds of analytic reports to put the advertising data in context. Ad Comparisons takes an individual approach to ensure all data and reports fit the needs of each user.

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Executive changes at Vera Bradley

BY CSA STAFF

Vera Bradley has restructured its executive team and promoted key figures, effective immediately.

"We have a lot of talent and experience within our company, and these promotions and realignments will help position us for the future. I am confident that we are in the process of assembling the right team to achieve our long-term goals, drawing from both our own leadership team and attracting new talent to the organization," said CEO Robert Wallstrom.

Kevin J. Sierks has been promoted to EVP, CFO. He has nearly 20 years of accounting experience in both public accounting and with publicly held companies. He joined Vera Bradley in 2011 as VP, controller and chief accounting officer and was appointed interim CFO in January 2013. In the 10 years prior to joining the company, Sierks worked in the medical device industry in finance and accounting positions of increasing responsibility, including VP and corporate controller of Biomet and director of accounting and U.S. Shared Services at Boston Scientific Corporation. He is a Certified Public Accountant and served a variety of public companies during a seven-year period at Deloitte. Sierks earned his B.S. degree in accounting from Indiana University.

C. Roddy Mann has been named EVP, strategy and operations. Mann joined the company in 2006 as VP, strategic initiatives; was named VP of strategy, sales, and marketing in 2007; and was promoted to EVP, strategy and business development in 2010. Prior to joining the company, he was a consultant with LakeWest Group and served a number of companies, including Vera Bradley, in the areas of marketing, information technology, operations management and strategy. In his new role, Mann will oversee information technology and operations, along with company’s strategic initiatives. Mann received a B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina and a MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Pamela Sours has been promoted to SVP, operations. Sours joined Vera Bradley in 2005 as VP, manufacturing and global quality. She has more than 20 years of operations and supply chain management experience in a variety of industries. Sours has an associates of applied science degree in electrical engineering technology and a B.S. degree in organizational leadership and supervision, both from Purdue University, and a master’s of business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. She is a Certified Supply Chain Professional of global supply chain management.

Anastacia ("Stacy") S. Knapper has been promoted to SVP, general counsel and corporate secretary. Knapper joined the company in 2011 as VP, general counsel and corporate secretary. Prior to Vera Bradley, she served as VP, general counsel and corporate secretary of both CTS Corporation and Haynes International and was a senior associate with Ice Miller LLP prior to that. Knapper earned her B.S. degree in literature and film from the University of Kent and her J.D. from the University of Notre Dame.

At the beginning of the year, the company announced that it had named Sue Fuller SVP, chief merchandising officer. She joined the company with more than 15 years of merchandising experience with several brands and retailers including Polo Ralph Lauren, Land’s End, L.L. Bean, Kohl’s Department Stores and Carhartt Global Brand.

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