Attorney General Joseph A. Foster warns New Hampshire consumers to remain guarded against credit card fraud even as more secure credit card technologies become widespread.
Traditional credit cards use a magnetic strip to store card information. The card information such as card number and security number remain the same for every transaction that the card is used for. Scammers can obtain traditional credit card information through card theft, computer hacking, or scanning devices and then use that information to create duplicate credit cards that can be used just like the original credit card.
New EMV credit cards contain a small computer chip. Unlike traditional cards that have a fixed security code, the computer chip in EMV cards creates a unique security code for each and every transaction. That unique security code is only valid for that one transaction and cannot be used again.
EMV chip technology is more secure than traditional magnetic strip credit cards because stolen transaction numbers cannot be used again and the stolen card cannot be duplicated like traditional magnetic strip cards can.
EMV cards are not swiped like a traditional magnetic strip card. Instead, the consumer inserts the card into a terminal slot and waits for the card to process the transaction. Many retail stores are currently transitioning to the new EMV technology by installing new credit card terminal equipment. All gas pumps will be converted to EMV compatible by 2017. While the industry-wide transition occurs, consumers will be issued cards with both a traditional magnetic strip and a new computer chip. Making payments with the magnetic strip will not provide the security benefits of using the chip.
EMV computer chip cards provide a significantly higher level of consumer security by making it more difficult for scammers to use information stolen from in-store payment terminals. However, the computer chip technology does not apply to out-of-store transactions and thieves can still use EMV card information to make fraudulent online and telephone purchases.
Tips for consumers using EMV chip credit or debit cards
- Keep your card safe. Store your credit and debit cards in a secure location when you’re not using them. Know where your cards are at all times.
- Destroy unused cards. If your bank or credit card company sends you a new EMV chip credit card, shred your old one and dispose of the pieces.
- Guard your PIN. If your card gives you the option of using it with a Personal Identification Number, make sure you memorize your PIN and keep it secret. Don’t use familiar numbers like phone, address, birthday or Social Security numbers as your PIN.
- Be cautious when shopping online. The process of paying online is the same regardless of whether or not your card contains an EMV chip.
- Check your credit report regularly. Monitor your credit to spot irregular activity. Under federal law, every consumer is entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus. A free credit report can be requested through www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Report suspicious activity immediately. If you notice an unfamiliar charge or payment on your credit or debit card accounts, report it to the bank that issued the card right away. If you spot an unfamiliar loan or line of credit on your credit report, you could be a victim of identity theft and need to act quickly to close the affected account, file a police report, and report it to the credit bureaus.
Victims of identity theft should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. The FTC can offer information to you on dealing with the aftermath of having your identity stolen:
- https://www.identitytheft.gov/ 1-877-IDTHEFT or 1-877-438-4338 (toll-free)
Consumers with consumer-related complaints or concerns can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Information Line at 1-888-468-4454 or file a complaint on-line at http://doj.nh.gov/consumer/complaints/index.htm.