Macro detail of the numbers on a plastic credit card with golden electronic chipWith the long awaited transition to EMV cards, more commonly known as chip cards, finally occurring in the U.S., many are hopeful that instances of credit and debit card fraud will decrease. However, the process of implementation and standardization is taking longer than expected, and there has been concern that this period of transition might be hard on consumers. In fact, we’re already seeing signs that this is the case, as scammers are taking advantage of this vulnerability. Here are some things you’ll need to be aware of in the wake of the switch to an EMV-predominant transaction system.

FTC’s warning of chip card scams

While EMV cards are more secure than their traditional magnetic stripe counterparts, the transitional period for customers switching to EMV has created a great opportunity for scammers. With millions of cardholders still waiting for their credit union, bank or other financial institution to provide them with a chip card, scammers have seized the opportunity to impersonate these institutions. Under the guise of “preparing” the customer for the upgrade to the new card, scammers will call or email victims and ask for their personal information, as warned of by the Federal Trade Commission.

The red flag for targeted victims is there’s almost no reason for any financial institution to contact you out of the blue concerning your upcoming chip card and ask for your information in order to successfully send you the card. Even if it seems like they’re “confirming” the information to make sure it’ll be send to the correct location, it’s best that you opt to not provide any information. In fact, when in doubt of the legitimacy of a piece of communication, you should always hang up the phone or avoid clicking on any email links and instead call your financial institution using the number provided on the back of your credit or debit card.

Scammers will double down on other types of transactions

This past Black Friday saw the least amount of in-store purchases ever, as Americans opted to do their shopping online. This coupled with the fact that the updated EMV cards are only useful in physical card transitions, since you can’t use the chip to complete online transactions, means we should expect more scammers to focus their efforts on stealing from online shoppers — something Europe has seen in the past couple of years. In the U.S., the benefits of EMV have yet to be realized, as many vendors still lack EMV reading terminals and e-commerce continues to boom. As such, it’s essential for cardholders to remain vigilant, regularly check their bank statements and report any suspicious activity whenever they spot it as well as know how to avoid falling for common email scams.

EMV has technically been cracked before (outside of the U.S.)

Although EMV cards and readers are a lot more secure than the previous magnetic stripe, this technology isn’t completely hacker-proof. Cambridge computer scientists have detailed several mock attacks on the platform, and there have also been a few noted real-world instances of fraud that circumvent the EMV chip’s security. These range from forcing fallback transactions (forcing transactions to proceed with the magnet stripe or manual credit card number entry) and skimming data at ATMs, to disguising fraudulent charges with legitimate charges and modifying stolen or lost EMV cards so they work without a pin.

Even with these successful attacks, EMV fraud is nowhere near as rampant as magnetic stripe fraud, which is why Europe saw a real decrease in fraud associated with in-person card usage. However, it’s important you exercise the exact same caution regardless of what type of payment method you use. In situations where you’re unable to use your EMV chip for whatever reason, you should avoid defaulting to swiping your card or giving out your card number — remember, cash is king when it comes to protecting your identity.

Follow our security breach blog to get more tips on how you can protect your identity online and visit our credit cards reviews to see top chip cards.