If the words “safe chip” make you think of baked potato crisps, we need to talk. Credit cards with chips – called “safe chip” or “chip and PIN” cards – are poised to be more popular, and prevalent, than low-fat potato chips.
In a nutshell, credit card issuers have begun adding micro chips to their credit cards. Ultimately, these chips are designed to replace the magnetic strip we’re all so used to. The idea is that these chips will make it harder for criminals to use a stolen card or card information and will provide legitimate cardholders with easier and more versatile use of their cards.
Traditional magnetic strip cards usually require only a signature for use, which can be forged, and in some instances – such as at the gas pump – no signature is required at all. Credit cards with chips require a PIN (personal identification number) to use them, making it more difficult for thieves to access and use the account if a card is lost or the card number stolen.
According to a report at PCmag.com (the website of PC magazine), both MasterCard and Visa are aiming to move consumers to chip technology by 2013. Use of the technology is already widespread in Europe, the report notes.
In addition to enhanced security, safe chip technology offers other advantages to users, including the potential to use the cards and access accounts through mobile devices, like smartphones.
Chances are that in the next year, you’ll be carrying at least one chipped card in your wallet, but you’ll still need to follow basic financial safety rules, such as monitoring your credit report and keeping your credit cards in your possession at all times. For all the potential benefits of chip technology, you will remain your own first and best defense for protecting your credit card accounts and personal identifying information from fraudsters and identity thieves.