If you have debit or credit cards, you’ve probably noticed the new EMV chip technology that was widely adopted by the U.S. last year. EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa and just basically equips your cards with upgraded security features. The chip credit cards have a microchip that is visible on the face of your card that creates a unique digital signature for each transaction you make.
While most banks and retailers across the country have been required to install credit card chip reader machines to use when customers check out, some smaller chain stores have been taking their time with implementing the changes due to the cost and volume of machines that need to be updated.
However, even larger retailers who already have the EMV chip reading machines installed are still at risk for dealing with a credit card theft situation. Card skimmers were recently found at two Walmarts in two different states last month.
Why Swiping Your Card Can Still Be Dangerous
The recent situation in May this year at WalMart supports the notion that swiping your card when checking out can still be unsafe regardless of what retailer you shop with. The major retailer in the U.S., receives 100 million customers each week and statistics show $36,750,000 is spent at Walmart every hour of each day making it a hot, potentially high rewarding target for would be thieves. Credit card skimming devices were found in Walmart stores in Fredericksburg, VA and Fort Worth, KY where a total of three dozen consumers in the Virginia incident had their card information stolen. Card skimmers are decoy devices that thieves attach to self-checkout terminals to copy and steal customers’ credit card information when they swipe their card to make a transaction.
The WalMart thefts were possible simply due to the fact that the customers swiped their cards instead of inserting an EMV chip card into the card reader instead. Traditional cards that have a magnetic strip that you swipe have a static set of information that never changes; this makes the information easier to copy and the data can be reused for numerous transactions. The new chip cards, on the other hand, have a unique digital signature thanks to the EMV chip installed. This digital signature changes each time you make a transaction, which makes it much more difficult for thieves to steal your card information and use.
Working with Retailers to Ensure Safety
When it became clear that swiping your card was both dangerous and a growing U.S. concern, the use of EMV chip cards was adopted. As a result of several large-scale data breaches and an increased amount of counterfeit cards, U.S. card issuers decided to shift to EMV chip technology like how many other countries have done to reduce the amount of credit theft and fraud.
If some card issuers or banks have been slow with issuing you a new chip debit or credit card, you should reach out and ask if they can send you one soon. While many retailers have installed chip reading machines, customers will have to do their part by reducing the risk of swiping their cards and inserting a chip card into the reader to help reduce opportunities for theft. In most cases, chip enabled cards when swiped at chip activated terminals will require the user to dip their card instead of swiping. However, this may not always be the case.
What happened at Walmart can happen to anyone no matter where they live, so it is a crucial reminder to not only obtain a chip credit or debit card, but to also use it accordingly when spending money at retail stores and shops.
Chip Credit Cards Won’t Solve Everything
While EMV chip cards will help greatly reduce the risk of theft and counterfeit cards providing you with some additional safety and protection, you will need to meet halfway and do your part as well since these cards will not be a complete solution. Thieves may have other methods of stealing your information, like copying your card number and expiration date to make unauthorized online purchases. Additionally, not all U.S. retailers, including many major retailers, have fully implemented chip reading terminals.
It’s important to always be on your guard during checkout, continue to use your chip card where you can, and check your bank statements regularly to stay on top of transactions.