Obama signs order to tighten security for federal credit cards

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Friday to beef up security measures for federal credit cards, and urged banks and retailers to follow suit in an effort to combat the growing threat of identity fraud.

The order, which Obama signed before a lively, packed crowd of regulators at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will add microchips and PIN numbers to government credit cards and debit cards starting in January.

The president also announced that several major companies will take steps to make their own systems more secure and offer more customer protections.

“The idea that somebody halfway around the world could run up thousands of dollars in charges in your name just because they stole your number, or because you swiped your card at the wrong place in the wrong time, that’s infuriating,” he said.

Obama’s executive order comes after many large companies including Target , JPMorgan and Home Depot have suffered high-profile cyber security breaches.

The White House said that Home Depot, Target, Walgreen and Wal-Mart Stores will roll out secure chip and PIN-compatible card terminals in all their stores, most by January.

In addition, American Express plans to launch a $10 million program to help small businesses upgrade sale terminals. Visa will invest in education programs about microchips, Mastercard is offering free online identity theft monitoring and Citi Cards will partner with FICO to make free credit scores available.

Bank and retail industry groups have been at odds for years over how to improve the security of electronic payments. The recent data breaches have made the dispute more prominent.

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