MERIDIAN The security breach at Target that exposed 40 million customer credit card accounts has many financial institutions working to reassure people that cards are safe.

For those that use Facebook, Twitter or just browse the web, chances are good that you have probably seen advertisements for a new kind of credit card that aims to simplify your life and keep your information safe.

Just about all of us have some sort of credit or debit card, bulking up our wallets and purses. Now, several companies tout a new kind of credit card -- a smart card.

The Echo, from Protean Payments, is one of those cards.

Echo is the next generation smart card and it syncs with a mobile app on your phone and it communicates through Bluetooth low energy, said Nick Bognar, communications manager for Protean Payments.

Bognar, with this start up out of Michigan, says their card won't have a your credit card number on the front and will have a proximity sensor to enhance security, making sure your card, if you ever lose it or have it stolen, can be instantly canceled through an app on your smart phone.

The Echo, and other cards like it, will store all your credit cards, debit cards and loyalty cards with a magnetic strip in one place.

To have one card, versus 10 or 12 in your pocket, or your purse or wallet, that's great. And also it's the capability that we have, we can focus on security with the software, said Bognar.

Lori Gull with Idaho Central Credit Union says her company sees fraud every day, she even had members whose information was exposed through what happened at Target.

I think anytime you can use innovation, technology to improve any process, it's always a good idea, said Gull.

Criminals, she says, are constantly changing their methods to defraud people. That's why, despite what happened to Target and those who shopped there, she tells people to still use your credit cards, because if your information is stolen you're not liable.

It is the safest way to spend money because of the back that you have by your financial institution or by VISA or by MasterCard. If you are using cash and it's stolen, it's gone, said Gull.

And smart cards, like the Echo, if it all works as advertised, will just add to the security.

With our mobile capabilities and the cloud, we're going to be able to tokenize on point of sale systems, giving our users security that they have only available to them on online transactions, said Bognar.

We couldn't find any smart cards like Echo currently in the mainstream market, but many of them promise to be available sometime this year, with one company already taking pre-orders.

One smart card, the Epic One, has a fingerprint scanner to increase security.

Each company is taking a different approach on how to sell the cards. Some will sell to consumers; others will distribute their cards through banks.

Gull reminds her members to check their statements regularly for fraudulent activity, because if you find a fraudulent charge, you are covered.

Gull also reminds us something we ve been told several times before, shred sensitive information. That s anything with your name, address and account number.

Also, when you shop online, make sure you have a secure website before you make a purchase. You can tell that when you see a key lock in the address bar or see https rather than http.

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