“So What?” to new chip credit cards?

Chip_Card_Payment2The new chip protected credit cards are coming! As of the first of this month, stores were required to have a new credit card reader installed to complete this new and improved credit card system. With this new technology, you can expect improved security and reduced chances of identity theft. That’s because the new chip, or “EMV” cards, make it harder for thieves to counterfeit your card or steal the number for charging up fraudulent purchases.

There are just a couple hitches in the plan – namely most people haven’t received their new chip cards, and it’s certain most stores won’t have the new and improved chip card reader installed any time soon. Even if they did, banks will not require you to use a special pin number every time you use the card, which is the ultimate step to crime fighting credit card fraud. So what’s the big deal?

gas pumpsAccording to City of Wyoming Police Officer Lt. James Maguffee, the change is slow in coming, but can make a difference when it gets here. Especially in fraud cases he’s been involved with recently like credit card numbers being skimmed from gas pumps in the west Michigan area. “The new chip cards make it harder to get the card number, so skimmers or a server at a restaurant won’t be able to see it.” The chip card will protect the data that is currently easily readable on the magnetic strip, so accounts held by big box stores like Target and Walmart likely will be safer. Walmart already accepts chip-enabled cards at all of its locations thanks to chip card readers installed as of November of last year. But chip embedded credit card are still rare.

In the meantime, even if the store has no chip reader you will still be able to swipe your chip card, when it broken window auto thefteventually arrives. But this also means you are still vulnerable to credit card theft. “The new credit card chip will have very little impact on consumers,” says Lt. Maguffee, “because without a pin number requirement, someone can still smash your window and steal your purse. They can still get the card number and use it at a store, even online.”

And by the time you actually have to use a pin number to activate the chip card, Maguffee predicts there will likely be even more sophisticated protections involving biotech systems currently being explored. This reminds us that identity and credit card theft prevention is something we should all be aware of while we wait for the future to arrive. The Wyoming Police make the following suggestions to help keep you from becoming a victim:

lifting the credit card numberCheck your accounts as often as you can, looking for unauthorized activity; daily if possible, and report any such activity to your bank immediately.

•Do not write passwords or PINs anywhere on or near your credit or debit cards.
•Protect your passwords and pins by using caution when entering or using them in a public place.

•Do not carry your social security card or number on your person. Memorize it and secure it at home.
•Never leave purses, wallets, ID, credit cards, etc. in your unoccupied vehicle.
•Never give out personal information over the phone to any source you are not absolutely certain is legitimate.

 Lt. Maguffee says since the recent big bust of gas pump credit card skimmers in west Michigan, the number of fraud cases may have “dipped just a bit.” So good old fashioned crime fighting doesn’t hurt either.