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The House Small Business Committee  held a hearing on the Europay, MasterCard, Visa (EMV) chip payment system which offers a more secure payment system for credit card transactions.Although the new technology is a big improvement, it does not mean an end to credit card fraud. The FBI recently issued a bulletin warning consumers to remain vigilant, despite the new technology.

EMV credit cards include a small microchip that encrypts your card information when you use it at a specially equipped payment kiosk. If the kiosk is appropriately configured, it cannot access the real credit card number, just an encrypted version of it, thwarting a virus, for example, from pilfering it during the transaction.

FBI press release includes a succinct summary of any effort to prevent fraud: “no one technology eliminates fraud and cyber criminals will continue to look for opportunities to steal payment information.”  In the case of the EMV technology, this is true for several reasons:First, because many retailers haven’t upgraded their point-of-sale infrastructure, the cards currently still include a magnetic strip that is more vulnerable to theft.  Second, the technology doesn’t necessarily stop thieves from using the information printed on the face of the card for online purchases where only the number is used. Third, as in Europe, thieves can turn to identity theft to work around EMV technology.

Introducing technology that makes cards more resistant to fraud for in-person purchases, will make criminals increase targeting of online purchases where additional technology is needed to secure payments.  If you secure the payments process, hackers will target unsecure data as seen in the massive Target breach, as well as millions of lost card numbers at Home Depot. In both cases, viruses on the computers that process in-store credit card purchases scooped up to 70 million names, mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers – everything a spy would need to steal an identity.  For these reasons, researchers are actively seeking to improve the security of the technology and reduce the chinks in the payment process armor.

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