...chip cards are here to stay

By this time, most everyone has heard about, or received, a chip credit or debit card. This is a card that has a small microchip embedded into the face of it that makes the card transaction more secure. The microchip issues a unique code for each transaction which greatly reduces fraud related to card-present transactions.

Europe has used this technology for more than a decade and the United States is finally rolling it out! In fact, it is also called EMV technology, which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three card companies that originally developed it.

Most banks are in the process of converting the cards they issue into chip cards, and merchants are in the process of changing their terminals to ones that will accept chip card transactions. You will also see changes at ATMs as new readers are being installed that will accept the chip cards. These new terminals and readers will keep any system breach or skimming device from being able to steal your card information.

Because this process of converting all cards and terminals in the US will take several years, cards issued in the US will also still include the magnetic stripe on the back. You will always be able to use your card, whether or not the merchant has upgraded their terminal. If the terminal is EMV-enabled, you will be able to insert the card, leaving it in the machine until the transaction is complete. Or, you will still be able to swipe it if the terminal is not yet able to accept a chip card. For chip transactions, the terminal will determine whether you are asked for a signature or to enter your PIN. You may notice that a chip card transaction takes slightly longer than an old swipe transaction did. That is the extra security feature sending that unique code through the process.

Card fraud will always be a threat, because chip cards will only be able to protect card-present transactions. It will not be able to protect card-not-present transactions conducted online, by phone or mail order. In fact, this type of fraud will become more common, so it is important to always protect your information. Make sure you are using secure websites if ordering online, and it is suggested that a separate card be used for these purchases. Also, monitor your accounts closely to detect and report any unauthorized transactions as soon as possible.

If you have any questions pertaining to this updated technology, please contact CBE.