Chip credit cards can be “hacked,” in a sense. If a thief inserts a “skimming” device into a credit card terminal, they can copy data from your credit card and later make a copy of the card. However, skimmers can only copy data from your card’s magnetic stripe, not its chip, which is much more encrypted. Therefore, any copy of your card will only have a magnetic stripe. That means criminals can’t use it any merchant that has a chip reader.
EMV chip cards enabled with contactless technology could also be at risk of NFC skimming. A contactless card uses NFC (Near Field Communication), a secure wireless technology that allows data to transfer from a mobile device to a card reader at a short distance. Someone close enough to you could use a scanning device to intercept the NFC signal and steal the card’s information.
In general, chip cards are safer than cards that only have a magnetic stripe. When you insert, or “dip,” a chip card rather than swiping it, the card’s built-in microchip and other security measures make it far more difficult for fraudsters to copy the card’s sensitive information.
Yet despite the security that chips provide, all chip cards still come with magnetic stripes. They’re necessary because not all merchants have payment terminals that can process chips. If a merchant does not have a chip card reader, you’ll have to swipe the card. This deprives you of the extra security protections built into the chip and leads to a greater risk of fraud.
It’s also important to note that cards with chip-and-PIN technology are more secure than chip-and-signature credit cards, yet most U.S. chip cards still come with the latter. They require a signature for purchases instead of a four-digit PIN. So if someone steals your card, they can forge your signature and make purchases.
If your chip credit card is hacked, skimmed or stolen, all major issuers have a $0 fraud liability guarantee on all of their credit cards. That means you won’t have to pay for the fraudulent transactions.
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