That shiny new chip on your credit card or debit card sure looks nice, and it's supposed to improve card security.
However, the FBI is warning people that the new EMV technology isn't quite as safe as some of the card companies would like you to believe. According to NBC affiliate WCNC, the FBI released a public service announcement explaining that card information can still be stolen anytime your card leaves your hand or anytime you use the card online. While the new computer chip on your card is supposed to help prevent card fraud, in reality, it will only reduce the amount of fraud slightly.
Apparently, the chips themselves are quite secure, but because they aren't always used to complete the transaction, chances are your card information is still vulnerable at times.
"Counterfeiting an EMV card is going to be difficult because that's the whole idea," Bill Chu, professor at UNC Charlotte, told WCNC.
Chu explained that there are many instances where the card's chip isn't utilized. The chips can only help protect consumer information when they're actually being used to transmit payment data. Online transactions are completely unchanged by the chip.
"You still type in your numbers," Chu told WCNC. "You're still doing the same thing."
In store purchases are a little different, however. Thieves of cards would have to gain access to credit card processors' information. This is much more difficult than simply duplicating the magnetic strip that was on older cards.
Chip n' PIN and chip n' signature
In addition to the difficulties with online transactions, there is another factor that pertains to fraud and the new cards. There are two types of the new cards, according to Wired. There are cards that have the new chips and then need a PIN number to be used, and then there are cards with the chip that require a signature. While the chip and PIN number cards are more secure, the cards with the chip that require a signature aren't much better. Anyone can fake a signature.
In America, most of the cards issued are cards that can complete transactions with a signature, Brian Dodge, an executive vice president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, told Wired.
"Chip and PIN has been proven to combat fraud dramatically," said Dodge. "But that's not what American consumers are getting, and thus far banks have gone to great lengths to blur the lines between the two distinctly different transactions."
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