2015.08.26 Tech Corner – EMV Chipped Credit Cards

EMV Chipped Credit Cards

Article By: Rich Silva – Founder – Pain Point IT Solutions, Inc.

You may have noticed that recently, your new credit cards are coming with what appears to be computer chips in them. For those of you who are not familiar with these, they are called EMV chipped cards. The EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. Since everything today seems to need an acronym, that seems to be what they came up with. Basically, the credit card companies came together and developed this standard in response to those thieves that figured out how to replicate and mass produce the cards and magnetic strips on your traditional credit cards and sell them to people who are willing to pay them a small fee to rip you off. There is a floating date out there of October 2015 that was established in 2013 which was the goal to be migrated to the new standard here in the US. Notice, I said floating because while implementation of point of sale and credit card processing systems have been steadily moving towards adherence of the standard, it is still a work in progress; but October 2015 is close now and it may be the magical date that vendors start taking this more serious.

How EMV is Different

As opposed to the traditional way of either swiping your credit card and then handing it to the cashier to have them verify the magnetically swiped number matches the one on the actual card, the chipped cards have a stored PIN (personal identification number) on them. So in additional to the swipe, or dip, the consumer will need to enter a PIN number. There is also an encrypted conversation (in some cases) that is transmitted from the chip to the credit card issuer through the credit card reader that further validates the authenticity of the card.

What about on-line or over the phone transactions ?

Good Question. The EMV technology was developed to reduce crime at the stores, but it really doesn't address on-line or internet transactions. You should continue to explore software and hardware solutions that your credit card issuing bank offers such as one-time use credit card numbers.

What the "bad guys" have learned to do with EMV

As we know, the bad guys are usually either a half or whole step ahead of the technology that the good guys develop. One of the technologies to read your card uses wireless NFC (Near Field Communications) technology as opposed to a dip. The geniuses who thought of this one pictured a world where we simply tap our card in front of a reader like one might at a door reader using proximity technology and you can then go about your life. The problem with this is NFC is a pretty common technology, in fact most smart phones have an NFC application on them. It won't be long before people figure out all they need to do is wave their smartphone near your purse or butt where your wallet is while you are waiting on line at the store and walk away with your PIN. Then get your card number from their buddy behind the register. So use common sense as you should be doing now when holding your credit card on a store line. While it may be flattering (or creepy) to think the punk behind you is taking a picture of your butt, sorry to say they probably won't be doing that.

Protecting your EMV card from Butt-Scanners

There are wallets and sleeves that you can purchase that protect against scanning technologies. You should take some time to familiarize yourself with EP (Electronic Pickpocketing), Near Field Communications, and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies and what you can do to protect your PIN which is now embedded on your card itself and designed to be read wirelessly. Once you read up on the technologies, you'll find a lot of information and companies that sell wallets and purses that have material designed to make it more difficult for EP, or as I like to call it; BS.

The Bottom Line

As we approach this soft-date of October 2015 for implementation of EMV capable credit card terminals, point of sale systems; you may start to hear the term EMV, Chip Readers, or Credit Card Dippers come up more and more. There will be praise for the technology, which is a vast improvement over the swipe and hand the card to the cashier method most stores still have in place, but understand that you still need to be vigilant and protect your identity and card as you do today. The technology does virtually nothing to address on-line or over the phone transactions, and bad guys are out there with the technology to electronically pickpocket information off the card right from your wallet without you even knowing. I hope this was a good primer for you to start taking a few minutes and browsing around to learn a little more about this technology that you will likely be hearing more and more about as we reach October and the holiday shopping season with confused people standing in line who don't know what a dip, or a tap is. You will.

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