CONSUMER ALERT: What consumers should know about chip cards

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

BATON ROUGE — Consumers are saying farewell to the swipe-and-sign credit cards and hello to the new credit and debit chip cards. Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell says the nationwide switch is well underway.

“This rollout is part of a major effort to cut down on fraud and credit card data breaches,” Attorney General Caldwell said. “The new cards offer greater protections for consumers and will help reduce the costs associated with fraud.”

Here are five things about the new credit and debit chip cards:

The new cards have a small, square metallic chip on the front, which holds payment data and provides a unique code for each purchase.

The metallic chip is designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting.

Instead of swiping the cards, consumers will put it into a reader for a few seconds.

Consumers may then have to sign or enter a PIN. But with each transaction, the chip generates a unique code needed for approval.

Because the security code is always changing, it’s much more difficult for someone to steal and use the code.

So what does the new rollout mean for consumers and their financial information? It simply marks the shift of the blame for fraudulent transactions from credit card companies or banks to the retailers.

Attorney General Caldwell cautions, however, that the chip does not stop lost or stolen cards from being used in stores or online. So it’s a good idea for consumers to still guard their card information closely, and check statements for suspicious activity. Also, be mindful of scammers who may be trying to take advantage of the millions of consumers who haven't yet received a chip card.

“Scammers are emailing people, posing as their card issuer. The scammers claim that in order to issue a new chip card, you need to update your account by confirming some personal information or clicking on a link to continue the process,” Attorney General Caldwell said.

Attorney General Caldwell stresses that there is no reason your card issuer needs to contact you by email, or by phone, to confirm personal information before sending you a new chip card. Do not respond to an email or phone call that asks you to provide your card number.

Banks and card issuers have been sending out new credit and debit chip cards, and the rollout will continue through 2016.