Credit experts concerned new microchip security measure for cards could enable more fraud?

8:17 PM, Dec 23, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida - In the wake of the Target credit card breach, the National Retail Federation (NRF) is calling for improved credit card security to protect retailers and consumers alike.

Within the next few years, credit card companies are reportedly planning a massive roll-out of microchipped cards, but many retailers and credit experts are concerned switching technologies will open up new avenues for fraud.

SEE ALSO: Target sued over credit card breach

The current analog strip, which works like a tape recorder, is easy to reproduce, but it's also impossible to steal information off of it without swiping the card.

New technology would work more like a radio beacon, and there are concerns about hackers being able to lift its information without direct contact.

"You're always concerned (about fraud)," said Janet McGibbeny, owner of Bellezza Tan & Spa, a small business in Seminole.  "Will (criminals) scan purses? Wallets?"

Even the NRF admits the switch from magnetic strips to digital chips is like "locking the front door while leaving the back door open." 

The NRF says it has lobbied to replace signature verification with more-secure PIN verification, but credit companies have resisted.

Much like gas that costs less when paying with a debit card, transactions that require PIN verification typically occur on less expensive networks. But retailers say most credit transactions occur on expensive networks that have higher "swipe fees," which is why they've been at-odds with the credit card companies.

"Swipe fees are high, that's how (credit companies) make money," said Laurie Zoock, owner of Tampa-based Credit Education Consultants.

Zoock says ultimately, the microchip should help combat identity theft.

"But the con is criminals will always figure a way and at some point, the security will be breached," Zoock added.

Experts tell 10 News no amount of card security would have likely stopped the Target breach, since the stolen information seemed to have come from the company's database, not individual cards.

And even if you didn't recently shop at Target, it's a good idea to frequently check your credit card statements and your credit report for anomalies.

You can request a free credit report from each of the three major reporting companies, via www.annualcreditreport.com.  Federal law entitles you to one free report from each company each year, and you never have to pay to see your report.

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