New smart-chip credit and debit cards are supposed to reduce fraud, and they probably will.
But that’s not stopping scammers from trying to take advantage of this time — right now — to use the cards for ill-gotten gains.
When a lender sends you a new card, your account has always been at risk as the card travels from the lender to your mailbox and into your hands.
Cards can be stolen and fraudulently activated, for example.
But right now, there’s a lot of confusion about these cards, and millions have been in the mail system in the past few weeks.
It’s an opportunity for crooks, and not just for the ones who steal a card out of your mailbox.
First, the skinny on the new cards.
U.S. card issuers have moved to this new technology, called EMV, short for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. It puts a computer chip in your credit or debit card. The chip is the small metallic square on the new cards.
When a consumer uses the new card, a unique, one-time transaction code is generated. If this code is stolen in a data hack, it won’t matter because it’s only good for one use. That’s different from the magnetic strips on older cards, because that data, once stolen, can be replicated and reused over and over.