EMV cards are coming fast. With a chip embedded into the card, the format is being touted as being far more secure than traditional credit cards, and not without merit. The cards are encrypted, invalidating hacking methods like those used in the recent breaches at Target and Home Depot. But, EMV cards aren't impervious, and users should remain cautious while using them. Here are three reasons why:
Theft is still an issue
If your EMV card is stolen, it's just as susceptible to fraudulent charges as other cards, and it's partially due to U.S. policy.
In its implementation of EMV cards, the U.S. opted for chip and signature rather than chip and PIN. In Europe, EMV cards work similarly to debit cards: Customers insert their card into the reader and enter a PIN to authorize the transaction. Just like a debit card, the PIN is user-specific, so anyone with the card needs the PIN in order to make a purchase. The U.S. has forgone the PIN in favor of a signature, much like traditional cards, so all a thief has to do is sign your name and the purchase will go through.
Just like with regular credit cards, EMV cards are susceptible to online hacking if your card information is stored on a website. In fact, with this type of hacking might increase as hackers look toward other exploits.
When making online purchases, don't save your credit card information if prompted and only trust sites with URLs that begin with "https."
Reliance on merchant upgrades
All the benefits of EMV won't help you if a merchant hasn't upgraded their POS credit card processing software and equipment.
The U.S. has a soft target of this October for implementation, but one MasterCard official told NerdWallet that only about 50 percent of American merchants will be able to take EMV by the end of 2015. Until then, the cards can still be used the old fashioned way with all the old security issues.
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