EMV Technology: Do EMV Chips Protect Your Credit Card Payments?

FT Contributor  | 

An EMV chip is the small computer chip you may find on the front of your credit card. EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa, since these are the three companies in the credit card sector who developed this technology. This tiny square computer chip is an additional security measure that’s meant to ensure your credit card transactions are safe and authentic.

The EMV chip creates a transaction code for every purchase you make with the card, lowering the possibility of fraudulent activity on your credit card. When your card has an EMV chip, you’re required to insert it into the credit card terminal so the chip can be read. With the EMV chip as a security element on your card, it’s nearly impossible to replicate the card as a counterfeit, making it less likely you’ll become the victim of fraud.

Most credit card issuers use this technology on all credit cards, including American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa. Regional banks and credit unions also implement this technology in most of the cards they issue. If you’re a credit card holder, it’s important to understand how this technology works and how it makes your sensitive transactions more secure.

EMV Chip Card Technology vs. Magnetic Stripe Card

You may remember when magnetic stripe cards were the precedent in credit card security technology. You swiped your card in the credit card terminal so it could read your credit card’s information and create a transaction for your purchase. In most cases, you were also required to provide a signature at the terminal for added security. While your magnetic stripe offered personal security, it was easy to recreate cards with these stripes and fraudulent activity ran rampant.

The onset of EMV chip credit cards offered additional security and changed the retail dynamic. Since the chip increases security, most credit card manufacturers and companies have implemented the technology in their cards. The implementation of EMV chip technology doesn’t stop with the card itself. Retailers were forced to upgrade their credit card terminals so the EMV chip technology could be utilized successfully.

The new terminal is equipped with a slot that allows you to insert your credit card and EMV chip. Your card remains in the terminal for the duration of the transaction so the machine can authenticate the data associated with the card. The system verifies your identity and approves the transaction, issuing a unique transaction identification number.  

Are EMV Chip-Enabled Cards More Secure?

During a transaction with an EMV chip-enabled card, your card is checked through several different security certificates. The terminal analyzes your account information and sends a request for approval to your card issuer. This process is more in-depth and includes several additional checks when compared to magnetic stripe card transactions.

Liability

Retailers are responsible for upgrading their credit card terminals to accommodate EMV chip-enabled cards. Most retailers were quick to upgrade because in most cases, they’re liable for counterfeit transactions. When a fraudulent credit card transaction occurs, the retailer foots the bill, which is enough motivation for these merchants to purchase new terminals and offer the most protection to customers they can.

When a fraudulent transaction occurs and a credit card issuer is notified, the transaction is usually cancelled. As a credit card holder, you’re not liable for fraudulent transactions, as long as you report them to your issuer as soon as possible and can prove you weren’t involved in the transaction.

Scams

While EMV chip technology has additional safety features when compared to magnetic stripe technology, it doesn’t mean credit card scams are impossible with these cards. Since many online credit card transactions don’t require the card to be present, the EMV chip can’t help to prevent fraud in these cases.

Online credit card hackers who gain access to your internet accounts can also gain access to your payment information if you have your card information saved in your online shopping profiles or on other websites.

In addition to online scams, criminals also found a way to recreate the EMV chip in an elaborate credit card scam that targets card manufacturers. When criminals get ahold of new EMV chip-enabled credit cards on their way to corporations that distribute the cards, they remove the chips and keep them.

These criminals place fraudulent chips on the credit cards, then send them on their way to these companies for distribution to new customers. When new credit card customers activate their cards, they’re actually giving these criminals access to their accounts. The criminals can use the EMV chips they swiped to initiate fraudulent charges on the card.

How Can Consumers Protect Themselves From EMV Chip Fraud?

Although EMV chip-enabled cards have more security features than magnetic stripe cards, it’s still important to be vigilant about preventing fraudulent transactions. To avoid becoming the victim of a credit card scam, keep your online identity secure. Don’t share your information, including passwords and credit card numbers, with anyone. If you save this information in online profiles, ensure your account has a strong password and change it often.

If you misplace your credit card, notify your issuer immediately so it can be deactivated. To ensure your account hasn’t been subject to fraudulent charges, check your credit card statement frequently. It’s also important to consistently check your credit report. Look for any accounts you didn’t open or a sharp decline in your credit score without justification.

Even the best credit cards with the most advanced security features aren’t completely safe from fraudulent activities or hackers. By understanding how your EMV chip-enabled card works and how to keep your credit card secure, you can be proactive about avoiding fraudulent charges and criminal activity.


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