The cost of credit card fraud has been huge in the U.S. for years but hopefully the instances of credit card fraud will be significantly curtailed with the nationwide shift to EMV cards. The EMV Standard, which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, was first written in 1993, but has just recently started gaining traction in the U.S., where its improved security capabilities is now being employed by:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • Diners Club International and others

EMV cards are also known as smart cards or chip cards due to the fact that, in addition to the traditional magnetic strip found on the back of conventional credit cards, they also contain a computer chip embedded within the card. This chip adds a whole new level of security, but only if used in a terminal that utilizes the EMV technology. Magnetic strip cards are easily copied. Chip cards, however, are much more difficult to counterfeit because a unique transaction code, known as “dynamic data,” is generated during each transaction.

Protect Yourself From Fraud

Here are some important tips that can help you protect yourself from credit card fraud this holiday season or any time of year:

  1. Only use a chip card when charging items and only at retail stores having terminals that are EMV-capable.
  2. When shopping online, DO NOT access your accounts while using a public or unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Make sure your own personal Wi-Fi setup at home is password protected and that you patronize only verified, secure websites.
  3. When shopping online use a credit card rather than a debit card. While both may be equally vulnerable to online fraud, with a credit card you’re protected against loss while, with a debit card, it’s your own money you stand to lose. If your credit card is used fraudulently and is still in your possession any losses are covered and you’ll owe nothing. Even if your card is lost and used fraudulently your maximum personal loss should not exceed $50.
  4. If possible, try to use just one single card for all your holiday purchases. This will make it easier to monitor both your purchases and your statement and to handle any charge disputes.
  5. Remain vigilant, keep track of all purchases, save your receipts and compare them against your statements on a regular basis. Don’t share your account info and report any irregularities immediately. Stay safe and have a happy holiday!