American credit-card technology is getting an upgrade that should make the cards less susceptible to fraud, but the FBI has a warning for consumers who use them: Stay vigilant.
The US in the midst of transitioning away from credit cards featuring magnetic stripes and toward chip-enabled cards known as EMV that are considered more secure. That transition is expected to ramp up this month, courtesy of a new rule that went into effect on Oct. 1 putting merchants on the hook for credit-card fraud if they haven’t upgraded their equipment to allow acceptance of the new chip cards.
Chip technology is widely expected to decrease payment-card fraud in the US, which reached $7.1 billion in 2013. But it won’t stomp out all types of fraud, the FBI cautions in an Oct. 13 public-service alert. ”[N]o one technology eliminates fraud and cybercriminals will continue to look for opportunities to steal payment information,” it warns.
The agency notes that lost and stolen cards can still be used in stores. And if a merchant hasn’t upgraded its card readers yet, you’ll have to pay by swiping your chip card, which counteracts the security protocols inside the chip. If fraudsters have made their way inside that terminal—which is what happened with the Target hack in 2014—your personal data would still be vulnerable.
The FBI also warns that chip cards won’t address card fraud involving purchases made online. In fact, if history is any guide, online card fraud could actually rise with the widespread adoption of EMV cards in the US, as criminals with fewer options for carrying out fraud in brick-and-mortar settings train their sights on e-commerce.
In the UK, card fraud for online transactions went up 79% in the three years after the shift to chip cards, according to the consulting firm Aite Group. E-commerce fraud went up in Australia as well, and Canada saw a 133% increase in online fraud.