Updated on 03.27.16

Keep an Eye Out for This New Credit Card Scam

Ilona Abramova

As the U.S. adopts chip-enabled cards, the FTC warns that email fraudsters are on the prowl for personal and financial information.

EMV credit card

Photo: Ciaran McGuiggan

You may have heard about the shift to EMV credit cards, the new chip-enabled technology that touts increased consumer safety by adding an extra layer of fraud protection on in-person transactions. Banks have gradually been replacing existing credit and debit cards and issuing EMV cards to consumers in recent months — more than 120 million new cards have been issued to date.

This shift has been a gradual one, however, and many people have yet to receive their new chip-enabled cards. As a result, there’s been a surge in scams taking advantage of people’s confusion as they wait for replacement cards. The Federal Trade Commission this week warned of one particular scam making the rounds.

How the Scam Works

According to the FTC, online scammers are sending out fake emails to consumers, posing as credit card issuers. These emails instruct people to confirm personal information or click on a fraudulent link to receive their updated credit card.

Replying to these emails inevitably puts consumers at an increased risk for identity theft, and clicking on phishing links can install harmful malware that places the computer’s (and user’s) security in jeopardy.

What You Should Do

  • Do not provide your credit card number over email: According to the FTC, “there is no reason your card issuer needs to contact you by email — or by phone, for that matter — to confirm personal information before sending you a new chip card.”
  • Call your credit card company: If you’re not sure whether the emails you’re receiving are legitimate, call the number on the back of your credit card and speak to a representative to make sure.
  • Do not open links from unknown sources: With the anonymity of the Internet, you should always exercise caution when opening links found in emails. If you don’t know the sender, think twice — and when it comes to finance, it’s always a good idea to type your bank’s website directly into your browser rather than clicking on an email link.
  • Remain vigilant when it comes to your credit: This is far from the only credit card scam out there. Read up on credit card fraud and the simple steps you can take on a daily basis to prevent it from happening to you. EMV chip-enabled cards may increase security in person, but the chip doesn’t help you online, according to TSD credit expert Holly Johnson — so be extra careful anytime you have to enter personal information.

I Thought Chip-Enabled Cards Were Supposed to Reduce Fraud?

Scams aside, the new chip-enabled cards do provide increased security for in-person credit card transactions by generating a unique code for each transaction, thereby making it more difficult for hackers to collect card information, Johnson says.

This shift is undoubtedly a necessary one, with more than 340,000 Americans experiencing credit card fraud annually. But if you haven’t gotten your new card yet, take the steps outlined above to make sure your information is safe in the meantime.

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