What to know about the debit chip cards

Coming to a wallet near you: new debit chip cards. The new cards look like your old cards with one exception: they have a small square metallic chip on the front. The chip holds your payment data — some of which is currently held on the magnetic stripe on your old cards — and provides a unique code for each purchase. The metallic chip is designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting.

Here’s how it works: To buy something in a store, instead of swiping your card, you’ll put it into a reader and follow the prompts on the screen. Then you might have to sign or enter a PIN. With each transaction, the chip generates a unique code needed for approval. The code is good only for that transaction. Because the security code is always changing, it’s much more difficult for someone to steal and use. It is important to remember that chip cards safety measures work only for in-person or card present transaction at properly equipped retail point of sale terminals and ATM machines.

There will be no change in the way you use your card online or by phone. Online retail transactions using chips cards do not offer the same safety and security because the technology only works if a machine can physically read the chip on the card. That means chip cards won’t prevent crooks from using stolen card numbers to buy online or by phone. When making a purchase on line with your card, make sure it is a trusted and secure site. So it’s a good idea to still guard your card information closely, and check statements for suspicious activity. If you notice suspicious activity notify Tri-County Bank at once.