More and more debit and credit cards issued in the U.S. will be embedded with a chip that's meant to fight fraud.
That's why people across the U.S. have been receiving new cards from their banks recently, and while they might look similar to your old ones, the technology installed in them is very different.
These new cards are referred to several different ways: Chip-and-pin cards, chip-and-signature cards or EMV (EMV is short for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three payment groups behind the new chips).
About one in five Americans have experienced debit card fraud in the past five years, according to a 2014 poll by ACI Worldwide and Aite Group. In an effort to fight the ongoing problem -- that's costing about $8.6 billion a year in the U.S. -- many cards now come equipped with an EMV chip.
According to Bankrate, the chip contains a tiny microprocessor that:
- Securely stores your payment information.
- Sends a unique, 1-time-use digital code to the payment terminal.
"From this point forward, you will see most banks issuing EMV-capable cards," Julie Conroy, research director at Aite, told Bankrate. "The smaller banks are a little bit further behind in the reissuance process."
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The idea is to prevent thieves from being able to easily replicate cards and steal people's personal information.
"In the current environment, all the criminals have to do is take that card information and they can create a card, or they can use any gift card that they get off the rack and put a new card number on the mag stripe, and then use it to conduct unauthorized transactions," Doug Johnson, senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy at the American Bankers Association, told Bankrate.
The new chips make that process a lot more difficult, since thieves won't be able to replicate the unique code generated at each transaction.
Bankrate says the way the chips can prevent fraud should entice all consumers to switch over to an EMV-capable debit or credit card.
For more details on the new standard and how merchants will be involved in the process of switching payment systems, click here.