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Do you feel safe when using your credit cards at retailers? Do you feel less safe after retailer Target reported that hackers stole the data on 40 million consumers who used their credit cards at Target stores across the country? Here’s some good news: CBS Minnesota recently reported that new technology could make such credit-card data breaches less common.

Smart cards on the way

What would help? CBS Minnesota points to smart cards, which are already popular throughout much of Europe. These credit cards, which store all of a consumer’s accounts on one card, rely on microchips and PINs, making them far more secure than the low-tech cards consumers in the United States currently use. Smart-card data breaches, simply put, rarely happen. Unfortunately, it might still be several years before these high-tech cards arrive in the United States.

The power of masking

Masked cards, though, are already here. According to CBS Minnesota, these cards generate a temporary number when consumers use them, either at brick-and-mortar retailers or online. Then, after the transaction is finished, that temporary number disappears. Which means that even if hackers steal the number, they can’t use it for additional purchases.

More options

Of course, after the Target fiasco, consumers have the right to wonder why more secure smart cards aren’t already available in the United States. There is no easy answer. But some speculate that credit-card companies haven’t yet upgraded to the new equipment required to make these high-tech cards work. And until they do? The smart cards won’t arrive in the United States.