Thursday, 16 January 2014

Traveling out side of the U.S. An important precaution.

The recent compromising of shoppers' credit cards  at our Target stores has led to my greater awareness of American laziness and ineptitude in the matter of credit/debit card fraud.

I have learned that American businesses and banks still rely on the old fashioned magnetic strip on credit and debit cards.  This makes them very vulnerable to fraud.

The rest of the world  (see Forbes Magazine quote and chart below) has long since moved to the more secure "Chip and Pin", or EMV technology.

In fact, some American travelers are discovering that their credit cards will be rejected for point of sale transactions (gas, hotel, travel, retail stores etc.)  (see Wikipedia article below).

God willing I'll be traveling outside the U.S.A. later this year. With that in mind I contacted the administrator of my Visa card, the Bank of America.

To my intense comfort I learned that B of A is one of the few Financial institutions which will issue a chip and pin cards upon request.

I'll have to move from my familiar "Working Assets" issued card (administered by B of A), to a B of A issued card: "Travel Rewards". (This is a pity since "Working Assets" devotes a small but significant part of its profits to wonderfully progressive groups each year). ***

My new EMV friendly card will arrive in about a month, in good time for my overseas trip. 

(If you plan to travel abroad soon it will be worth your while to try to get a Chip and Pin Card).

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*** Groups such as Working Assets often issue cards, which are administered by some financial institution (in my case the B of  A).

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From Forbes Magazine

A world map shows only one dead zone when it comes to embracing EMV technology: the USA. Remote countries such as Bhutan, Bosnia and Iran all use it, as does every other country (yes, even North Korea).


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From Wikipedia

Chip and PIN is the brand name adopted by the banking industries in the United Kingdom and Ireland for the rollout of the EMV smart card payment system for credit, debit and ATM cards. The word "chip" refers to a computer chip embedded in the smartcard; the word PIN refers to a personal identification number that must be supplied by the customer. "Chip and PIN" is also used in a generic sense to mean any EMV smart card technology which relies on an embedded chip and a PIN.

Chip and PIN systems can cause problems for travellers from countries that do not issue chip and PIN cards (most notably, the USA) as some retailers may refuse to accept their chipless cards.

While most terminals will still accept a magnetic strip card, and the major credit card brands require vendors to accept them, some staff may refuse to take the card under the belief that they will be held liable for any fraud if the card cannot verify a PIN.

Non-chip-and-PIN cards may also not work in some unattended vending machines at, for example, transport stations

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