New transactional cards with embedded computer chips—called EMV cards—are on their way to consumers with the hope of protecting their financial information from cybercriminals. These cards may make transactional card purchases safer, but the same tried and true, basic security principles apply as your new card makes its way into your hands:
1. Know what to expect
Be on the lookout for a card to arrive and know what to do after it does. Receiving a transactional card in the mail might be a small risk if your mailbox isn’t secure, so you may want to consider contacting your card issuers to find out if and when they’ll be sending you cards.
“It never hurts to just give [the card issuer] a call with the number on your card and ask what their plans are,” says Matt Schultz, senior analyst at CreditCards.com. Most major financial institutions are adopting these new cards, so the odds are that you’ll be receiving one sometime in the near future, if you haven’t already.
According to Schultz, the deluge of new cards arriving in the mail in response to data breaches may have lowered consumer awareness of them, but an EMV card is more than just a replacement card to stick in your wallet. There are important details to keep in mind, such as the chip in an EMV card protects your payment and personal information when it is “dipped” at payment rather than swiped. Therefore, after you get your new chip card, it’s important to pay by “dipping” whenever a store offers it.
2. Changes to make
When your card arrives, you’ll want to check it and read the paperwork included with it. According to Schultz, if your card has a new number, you’ll need to go through your online and autopay accounts to update the payment data to avoid late fees or other issues that might occur by using your old credit card number.
“That’s not the most convenient thing ever,” Schultz says, but he also points out it can be the impetus to better organize your financial accounts. “It can give you the excuse to review what you’re buying and what you’re paying for that you’re not actually using,” he says.
Upon reviewing your finances, if you see that you’re spending money on subscriptions or accounts you don’t need or use anymore, this is a great time to get rid of them before entering your new EMV card’s information for autopay purposes.
And don’t forget about digital versions of your old card. Clear any online accounts where that old data is stored so you don’t accidentally try to use it in the future. This also applies to apps on your smartphone, which might have stored your card data. If you haven’t used an app in months, it might be time to get rid of it, removing the chance of impulse buys or security risks if your phone is lost or stolen.
3. Keep security in mind
Security is still important to keep top of mind; although EMV cards are designed to be more secure, using cards online is not free of risk. For example, if you enter your new card’s information online to make a payment, you are putting that data at risk in the event of a data breach because the chip technology can’t be used for online purchases.
Your old card should also be destroyed properly. Using a crosscut shredder is usually the best method, but you’ll want to wait until you receive and activate your new card before doing so.
After your old card is destroyed, be sure to pay attention to whether your chip card is working correctly. According to Schultz, payments with EMV cards may also sometimes mean a longer wait at check-out, since most registers take longer to read an EMV chip than they do a standard security strip, so patience on your part and that of other shoppers is definitely a virtue.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.