By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Five-hundred million. That’s the staggering number of records compromised through data security breaches in the past year. Now one Maryland representative takes action, hoping to protect consumers this holiday season.

Rick Ritter has details.

The number of cyber attacks is certainly growing. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings wants to make sure banks are on their toes, protecting consumers from another possible data breach.

It’s a shopper’s worst nightmare that’s become a reality over and over–hackers targeting retailers and leaving consumers out in the cold for the holidays.

“This is a very, very serious issue,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D) Maryland.

Just last year, a security breach at Target stole credit and debit card information from millions. In September, the same deal at Home Depot–one of the largest retail data breaches in U.S. history.

“I spend tens of thousands of dollars at Home Depot,” said one contractor.

Customers were outraged.

“It’s unacceptable for them to have that kind of data breach,” one man said.

Representative Elijah Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren sent letters Thursday to 16 different banks, demanding answers about recent data breaches. On that list–Bank of America, Citigroup, PNC and Wells Fargo.

“Folks can rob a bank of more money with a cyber attack than walking in the door with guns,” Cummings said.

The goal is to figure out the extent of those recent breaches and what protections–if any–they’re putting in place.

“We know for a fact that close to 500 million financial records have been stolen and we’ve got to address that,” Cummings said.

…Before another cyber attack turns this holiday season into a disaster.

Cummings expects to hear back from that list of banks by early next week.

Cummings also sent letters to retailers and other companies, including Home Depot and Target.

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