credit card techIf you’ve been keeping up with the news, you might be aware that four major credit card networks (i.e., Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover) are doing away with credit card signature verification for various reasons, with technological improvements cited as being one of them. Have you wondered what these advancements may entail and what kind of impact they have? We found ourselves asking those questions as well, so we sought to learn more about the security features that are meant to protect you against payment card theft and fraud. To learn more about consumer-facing card tech advancements, read on.

Tech advancements that protect your cards

Chip technology

If you have a credit card or debit card, you may have seen the micro computer chip embedded into your card. This chip is known as an EMV chip, a technological advancement that has taken on a prominent role in better securing your cards. Arguably a better way to secure your payments at point of sale than its predecessor, the magnetic stripe, the EMV chip encrypts transactions. Magnetic stripes send your card numbers to complete payments without encrypting the card numbers first, whereas chip cards assign a one-time code to each purchase, meaning that, unless you need to return your purchase, the code expires after each payment is received. As a result, when it comes to people trying to steal your card information through traditional skimmers, because of these one-time codes, chip card numbers can be more difficult to steal than numbers from cards without EMV chips.

That said, keep in mind that EMV chips aren’t foolproof. First, you should understand that an EMV card can only protect you if you use the chip by “dipping” your card into the reader. For example, if your local grocery store doesn’t have a chip reader, paying by sliding your card’s magnetic stripe will not protect your card’s number in any way. Additionally, EMV cards only protect transactions made in person, as those made online require you to enter your card’s information. Finally, you should know that EMV shimming, a technique that closely resembles skimming, has risen to existence, and it can be undertaken to steal your credentials at point of sale systems.

Biometrics

If you’ve seen futuristic superhero movies featuring scientists scanning their irises to access top-secret labs, it may surprise you that biometrics, technology that records and analyzes someone’s biological characteristics for the purposes of authenticating them, are already in use today in today’s society. While Hollywood may portray facial recognition and fingerprint scans as the stuff of sci-fi, biometrics are no strangers to those working in various industries, including the finance and credit card sector. Mastercard, for example, has dabbled in the field of biometrics, releasing an EMV card with a fingerprint scanner that can authorize payments. While South Africa was the first market to test this biometric card, it is expected to be live in select markets in other parts of the world sometime this year.

Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication is another point related to debit and credit card tech that’s worth mentioning. This type of authentication takes place when a user is authenticated through multiple independent credentials (e.g., password, tokenization and biometrics) for transaction purposes. As security measures develop, the increasing use of multi-factor authentication is stepping in to play a part in protecting you from credit card theft.

Credit card tech advancements may help, but they aren’t foolproof

While it may be assuring to know that there are credit card tech measures in place to better protect you, it’s important for you to understand that these advancements aren’t foolproof, especially in the Digital Age, which is ripe with data breaches and the threat of identity theft. As such, it’s good to stay on your toes and not be too caught off guard if your information is compromised. To ready your preparations for such happenings, follow our identity theft protection blog.