What are EMV credit and debit cards?

April 29th, 2015 Sandy Bailey

Do you remember listening to your favorite music on CDs? Perhaps cassette tapes? Or were you rockin’ out on the gramophone?

It seems like we’re always adjusting to changes brought about by new technologies.

There’s a big change you need to know about regarding payment systems and preventing credit card fraud. And it’ll be much easier than switching music formats – I promise.

So, what is this new-fangled payment system and how will it impact you?

EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) is a smart card payment system that safeguards against credit and debit card fraud by using a computer chip to authenticate your identity. When you make a purchase with your EMV credit or debit card, you will insert the card into a payment terminal and either enter your PIN or sign the terminal.

The cards are designed with a built-in microprocessor chip that electronically scrambles your account information wherever you physically use your card. Each transaction produces a unique code. As a result, if data thieves were to steal your credit card information from a merchant, it would be useless to them because the line of information they receive from the transaction would be invalid when they try to use it. This will make getting your information more difficult for thieves. However, it is only for transactions where you are physically using your card at a terminal.

EMV technology cannot protect you against online fraud. In 2015, the number of online shoppers will exceed the 200 million mark for the very first time. If your account information is stored on a website or shopping account, data thieves may have an easier time accessing it. A few ways to help prevent someone from stealing your data is to make sure your online passwords are difficult to guess, change your passwords often and log out of your accounts after each use.

The changeover to EMV cards will be gradual as it may take some time for cardholders to become familiar with how the cards work. Most merchants and banks should have the new payment terminals in place by the end of this year. Some merchants may not have the terminals that accept the EMV cards yet. If you find yourself at one of these locations, do not fret. You can still use the magnetic stripe on the back of the card to swipe your card at the payment terminal.

MidWestOne is issuing the new EMV debit cards beginning February 8, 2016. Those who request new cards, and those who are renewing their cards, will receive the new EMV card. Our customers will receive notice on how the cards will be distributed and how to use the latest smart card payment system.

If you’d like to learn more, or if you have any questions, please contact us. As always, we’re happy to help.

Sandy Bailey

About the author

Sandy Bailey is Market President at MidWestOne Bank.

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