Swiping Your Chip Credit Card Could Be Dangerous for Your Data

Have you received your new chip credit card yet? While some people started receiving the revamped plastic as early as last fall, a lot of us are just now getting the updated cards with their promises of better security for users. If you’ve used one, you know that the cards not only look slightly different – there’s a metallic chip in them, after all – but require the places we shop to update the card scanners. Instead of swiping, you insert the chip area into a slot, and your payment processes as securely as current technology allows. But what happens when a store or restaurant doesn’t have the new scanners yet?

Since our new cards still have the old-fashioned strip, we can just swipe them like we used to do, right? Well, if we’re learning anything from Good Housekeeping today, it turns out that we CAN swipe those chip credit cards— but we really, really shouldn’t.

Why? Well it all comes down to why our banks are updating the cards in the first place. After a series of highly-publicized data leaks, where consumers’ credit card numbers were stolen in a massive hack of popular retailers, we all knew that we needed better ways to protect our funds and our information.

The chips not only offer that protection by turning every use into a unique, secure transaction, they offer another level of protection if, somehow, your data is still stolen, in that you won’t be held responsible for any fraudulent charges— but only if the card went into a new chip reader. If it was swiped? The store is responsible for covering those missing funds, but most of them aren’t prepared to do so. One guess who gets stuck with the missing money in that situation. That’s right. You.

Good Housekeeping elaborates:

Banks have been rolling [new chip cards] out like crazy and they’re supposed to be safer — as long as you use them the right way, that is. That’s why the fact that some retailers — including Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, Chick-fil-A, and Panera Bread — don’t have chip card readers up and running at all of their locations is a big concern. You see, if you swipe a chip card instead of inserting it into slot, the merchant is responsible for covering any fraudulent charges — not the bank. And some retailers aren’t in a financial position to cover major security breaches, like that corner store you picked up a gallon of milk from in a pinch. That means you get stuck covering the snafu [. . .]

So why don’t some stores have these new readers yet? Well, it depends on who you ask. Banks claim retailers are being too slow about adapting and installing the new technology. Stores, on the other hand, say that they’re ready, but they haven’t received the certification and go-ahead from card companies yet.

For you, though? It doesn’t really matter why it’s all happening; you just need to know that it is! What should you take away from the whole mess? Never swipe a chip credit card. If you can’t “dip” it in a new machine, use cash, check, or some other form of payment. Of course, NEVER give out any of your banking information to anybody. Get more information from Good Housekeeping and ABC 7, and safe shopping!