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EMV chip makes cards more secure, but fraud remains a risk, AG Cooper warns

Release date: 11/12/2015

Consumers encouraged to guard against card fraud during holiday shopping

Raleigh:  Consumers who have gotten new credit and debit cards with EMV chip technology still need to be on the lookout for frauds and scams, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.

“New technology can make card transactions more secure, but no credit or debit card is completely safe from fraud,” Cooper said. “Consumers can’t let down their guard when it comes to protecting their credit and debit cards, especially with the busy holiday shopping season about to start.”

How the new cards work
Banks, credit card companies, and retailers are transitioning from cards with the traditional magnetic strip to new cards and payment systems that use EMV chips. Older cards generate the same transaction information with each use, making it easier for information to be stolen from cards that are swiped through rigged payment terminals. Cards with the EMV chip—named for its owners Europay, Mastercard and Visa—protect personal information by creating a unique security code for each transaction.

EMV chip cards make it more difficult for thieves to steal consumer payment information from in-store payment terminals, but they will not protect consumers from problems with lost or stolen cards. Scammers can still use stolen card numbers to make illegal purchases online or by telephone, because EMV chip cards will continue to use the traditional process for those transactions.

Many stores are still transitioning to EMV payment terminals, and gas pumps don’t have to switch to the new technology until 2017, so consumers may notice that their new chip cards still include a magnetic strip. If consumers are asked to swipe their card to make a payment rather than using a new chip card reader, they won’t get the additional security benefits that EMV chips offer.

Regardless of which type of payment system is used, paying by credit card is generally safer than cash or check because you can dispute the charge if you don’t get what you pay for and can stop damage quickly if theft or fraud happens, Cooper said.

Tips for consumers using EMV chip credit or debit cards

  • Keep your card safe. Store your credit and debit cards in a secure location when you’re not using them. Know where your card is at all times.
  • Destroy unused cards. If your bank or credit card company sends you a new EMV chip credit card, shred your old one and dispose of the pieces.
  • Guard your PIN. If your card gives you the option of using it with a Personal Identification Number, make sure you memorize your PIN and keep it secret. Don’t use familiar numbers like phone, address, birthday or Social Security numbers as your PIN.
  • Be cautious when shopping online. The process of paying online is the same regardless of whether or not your card contains an EMV chip. Continue to follow our tips for safe online shopping.
  • Check your credit report regularly. Monitor your credit to spot irregular activity. Under federal law, every consumer is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus.
  • Report suspicious activity immediately. If you notice an unfamiliar charge or payment on your credit or debit card accounts, report it to the bank that issued the card right away. If you spot an unfamiliar loan or line of credit on your credit report, you could be a victim of identity theft and need to act quickly to close the affected account, file a police report, and report it to the credit bureaus.

Watch out for chip card scams
Consumers should also be prepared for scams that follow the release of new EMV chip cards, Cooper said. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning about phony emails from scammers who pose as representatives from a major credit card issuer. The emails ask consumers to confirm their order for a new EMV chip card by clicking on bad links or replying with personal information that could be used to commit identity theft.

“While stores and banks work to adopt new EMV chip technology, look out for scammers using this as an opportunity to trick you,” Cooper cautioned. “Never reply to an email or phone call that asks you to share personal information like your card or account number.”

Each year, thousands of North Carolinians are affected by scams related to credit and debit cards. In 2014, the Attorney General’s Office received more than 1,100 consumer complaints about credit scams and identity theft.

If you believe you have been a victim of scam, report it to the Consumer Protection Division by phone toll-free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online. For more information on using credit and debit cards safely, visit our website at ncdoj.gov.

Contact:   Noelle Talley    

Phone:     919/716-6413