By now, you’ve probably received at least one replacement for your existing debit or credit cards.
No, your cards didn’t expire, they were just replaced by cards with new EMV technology, which embeds a chip right into your credit card for added security from card thieves.
According to a Wired Magazine report, "the chip reduces fraud because it contains a cryptographic key that authenticates the card...and also generates a one-time code with each transaction. This means thieves can’t simply take account numbers stolen in a breach and emboss them onto the magnetic strip of a random card, or program them onto the chip of a random chip card, to make fraudulent purchases at stores or unauthorized withdrawals at ATMs."
Thieves have traditionally stolen physical credit card data with skimming and trapping devices, and through online phishing scams. With new EMV technology, the goal at least is for in-store fraud to decrease.
"Chip n' Pin" cards have been used overseas for years with great success, even decreasing fraud by as much as 67 percent, according to the U.K. Card Association. But U.S. creditors are only now updating older cards in efforts to combat rising fraud in retail purchases.
Over the last few years, card issuers have spent between $200 million and $800 million to distribute new debit and credit cards to accountholders, while large retailers like Target, Home Depot and Walmart have spent more than $8 billion to install new card readers capable of reading the chips.
— Wired, September 30, 2015
Now, you'll insert your card directly into machines instead of swiping the old fashioned way.
There has been confusion however, between the "Chip n' Pin" cards used globally, and the "Chip n' Signature" cards being delivered. Many question the security the new cards offer as long as retailers and point-of-sale technologies continue accepting signatures in lieu of PINs.
The card industry defends the use of signatures, however, saying the power to combat fraud lies in the chip, not the PIN or the signature. PINs add an extra layer of protection only for lost or stolen cards.
If you're unaware of or weren't issued a PIN with your new card, you can certainly still request a PIN number from your credit card company. Anything to secure yourself further from credit thieves, which will undoubtedly shift their methods in stealing your precious card data.