It has been eight months since the mandate to the credit card companies and merchants to switch to the new EMV chip credit cards which generate a unique randomly generated code for each transaction that renders useless hacking retailers to steal credit card information as we have seen so many times in the past few years, most notably with Target in 2013. Yet despite the October 1, 2015 deadline for merchants and credit card companies to switch to the new EMV chip credit cards in order to avoid liability for fraudulent credit card purchases, recent surveys indicate that only 70% of American credit card holders have EMV chip credit cards and less than 37% of merchants have adopted the new technology. Many smaller retailers have made the decision not to switch to the new processing equipment required to process EMV chip credit cards because they have determined that the cost of updating and changing their card processing equipment is more expensive than they perceive their risk of potential liability for fraudulent card use while other retailers have updated their equipment, but have been delayed in having it become operative because it must be certified by each payment network, such as MasterCard and Visa, used by the merchant. Some merchants have even sued MasterCard and Visa over the delays.
The rules regarding the shifting of liability for fraudulent charges do not directly affect consumers, however, that does not mean that consumers can just ignore this matter. Scammers are still taking advantage of the fact that 30% of Americans still have not received a new EMV chip card by emailing them posing as their credit card companies asking for information in order to process their new EMV chip cards. Unfortunately, people receiving these emails provide the personal information including their credit card number, which is then used to make fraudulent charges in the names of the scammers’ victims.
So how do you know as a consumer if you receive an email purporting to be from your credit card company that it is legitimate?
First check the address of the email sender. If it appears to come from someone or some company wholly unrelated to your credit card issuer, it is a scam. Many scammers use hijacked email accounts that become a part of a network of controlled computers referred to as a botnet to send out their emails so that it is difficult to trace the scams back to the scammer.
Merely because the email appears legitimate, is written in proper English and even carries the logo of your credit card company does not mean that it is legitimate. It is easy to copy the logo of a company on to an email. If you get an email from your real credit card company it will generally be addressed to you specifically by name rather than a generic greeting of “Dear Cardholder.” In addition, legitimate emails to you will generally reference your account by including the last four digits of your account. However, even paranoids have enemies so if you do get an email that appears legitimate, but you still have concerns, merely call the company at the number found on the back of your credit card to confirm that the email is legitimate. but make sure that you dial the number correctly because some enterprising scammers have bought telephone numbers that are quite similar to those of the legitimate customer service numbers for your credit card companies in order to snare people who have misdialed their credit card company.