"Our country's consumers depend upon safe and secure transactions, and especially at this crucial time of year, our country's retailers must commit to fulfilling that expectation. Unfortunately, these data breaches are becoming increasingly common," Menendez said in a letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "Therefore, I write to request an update on the Federal Trade Commission's efforts in regard to this and other data breach situations, as well as whether additional legislative support would help to protect consumers."
Menendez spoke about his letter to Ramirez during a news conference in front of a Target store in Jersey City, saying he wants to ensure similar data thefts don't occur again, the Jersey Journal reported Thursday.
Days before Christmas, Target announced a data breach occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, affecting about 40 million credit and debit card accounts, compromising customers' names, card information and security codes. Target since has reassured its customers the breach was resolved but did not disclose how the hackers penetrated its data security.
Menendez said if the FTC can't respond with more than small fines, then Congress should give the agency "more teeth."
"People need to know that they aren't going to get ripped off shopping, either by silent hackers or by the merchants themselves," he said.
Menendez said the retailer needs to prove that it has enhanced its security measures, the Journal reported.
"If in fact you have a company, whether it be Target or any other, that is not making the investment in their security process to ensure that what happened to Target doesn't happen, then you have to question why a company would not do that," he said.
Katie Boyland, a Target spokeswoman, did not respond to Menendez's suggestion that the company, based in Minneapolis, put profits ahead of data security.
"We are focused on partnering with the authorities who are investigating this crime against Target and our guests, and helping our guests understand what they need to know and what steps they can take," Boylan said in an email to the newspaper.