First it was our favorite one-stop-shop – Target – exposing the information of 110 million people. A year later, it was our iconic orange friend that helps us do it ourselves – Home Depot – leaving 56 million store credit card holders feeling betrayed.

Nearly 160 million people, doing what makes our economy tick – shopping – subjected to unwarranted angst and a feeling of helplessness in a nation where 43 percent of companies experienced a data breach in the past year. In California, home of the eighth largest economy in the world, the issue is even more profound – 17 percent of 2012 U.S. data breaches occurred here and reported breaches increased by 28 percent in 2013, according to a recent California Attorney General report.

The anxiety this causes is real and disheartening, but even more unfortunate, is that this problem could be significantly remedied if the root of the problem – outdated payment technology – was addressed by the banks and credit card companies that control much of the system.

At the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, our goal is simple: build a strong local economy and instill confidence in our residents to shop freely in the community. The system in place for the vast majority of financial transactions today though fails to deliver such consumer assurances and puts our entire mission at risk.

According to a study from Interactions, 12 percent of shoppers stopped going to a store if it suffered a breach and 36 percent of them said they would purposefully spend less money at those stores moving forward. For the big guys, such losses may be absorbable, but for the businesses down on Town Square or over the on Gardenwalk, they may not be as unfortunate.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Much of the world uses an open-standard set of technologies for credit cards known as EMV. Rather than swipe cards relying on magnetic stripes created 45 years ago, consumers abroad insert credit cards with unique chips into a system that for the most part, asks for a PIN. In America, we still swipe and sign.

The difference and impact is profound.

According to a report from the United Kingdom Cards Association, fraud in the UK is “at its lowest level for two decades and counterfeit card fraud losses have also fallen and are at their lowest level since 1999.” The results are similar in Canada, where the Home Depot breach did not exist and where losses from skimming threats decreased roughly 73 percent from 2009 to 2012.

But here in America, we are stuck in 1970, because for card carriers and banks and credit, it is much less about security and more about making money through the fees they charge retailers to process transactions. America’s incessant reliance on magnetic stripe cards is part of a cynical ploy to reap profits for financial institutions and the transaction networks they conspire with.

Communities like mine need and crave more comprehensive data security measures to protect consumer financial data from criminals and maintain consumer trust in the marketplace. Financial institutions across the spectrum should do their part to bring every credible security tool available to market to protect sensitive information from being stolen or used. While we have no way of knowing what the future may hold, we do know what exists now and how effective it has been elsewhere. The time has come for banks and credit card companies to get serious on tangible frontline measures and switch to chip and PIN technology. Magnetic stripes and signatures simply do not provide a serious layer of security for cardholders.

Without a change, and fast, breaches and consumer angst will only continue.