Can Chip-and-PIN Credit Cards Protect Our Identities?

This past year has been fraught with identity theft, especially with credit cards. Can chip and pin cards protect our identities?  Over 100 million Americans have been affected in 2014 by the major breaches of payment systems for retailers such as Home Depot, Kmart and Target.

On Friday, President Obama took a step towards combating this with an executive order to have secure chip-and-PIN technology embedded into government-issued credit and debit cards. Chip-and-PIN cards, which are already the standard in Europe, are much more secure than the standard magnetic stripe credit cards used in the US. Rather than having customers swipe their cards through readers and sign, a store that uses chip-and-pin technology has consumers insert a card embedded with a security chip into the reader and enter a PIN code, similar to an ATM code. The chip is much more secure and makes cloning the card much more difficult, and the cards also prevent fraud because potential thieves need to know your PIN as well.

However, don’t think you’re in the clear from fraud yet; while this move is a good stepping stone, it only covers government-issued cards, and most banks still use the older cards. Hopefully it will inspire more banks and stores to get on board with new technology, but it has existed for years and hasn’t been adopted in the US yet. The White House claims that some major retailers like Wal-Mart will have the new readers available in the US by next year.

In addition, the card isn’t foolproof. There have still been cases of thieves teaming up with store owners to steal the data from cards and commit fraud. There are also many other forms of fraud that are still viable, and the internet is making it easier than ever. I still recommend using a credit monitoring product (read why here: goo.gl/HOhAkr) and being vigilant about protecting your identity.