Credit Card Chips Do Not Replace Common Sense

I heard for the 900th time today (that is a hyperbole, actually I heard it for the 800th time today) about how the credit card chips are such an improvement over the previous credit card swiping procedure.

The bottom line is that credit card chips do not replace common sense when it comes to credit cards (or debit cards).  Here are some basic tips that will help keep your credit cards safe (please pay attention to the first one)

  1.  Check to ensure you have your credit card periodically.  That means when you leave a restaurant, when you leave a gas station, when you leave anywhere where you had to display or use the card and then (maybe, possibly) left it somewhere.  It is better to check one more time than get all the way home and realize it is gone.
  2. For those that carry a purse, ensure the zippers are zipped, the clasps are clasped and you hold the purse securely.  Be aware of where your purse (or wallet) is at all times.  Keep your wallet in your front pocket and your purse within site.
  3. Check your credit card bills at least once weekly and mark any expenditures with which you are not immediately familiar.  If you do not check it, small charges can build up and this can lead to penny theft which is common in the credit card theft business.  In order to eliminate suspicion, thieves make small credit card charges that are not suspicious and, before you know it, they are stealing you blind.
  4. Credit card chips are NOT biometrics, so you still need to protect your credit card and your account.  That means STRONG passwords on the on-line account to help protect that account.  Once that is gone, your card is as worthless as the plastic it is on.

Are these exhaustive hints?  Absolutely not!  They are just prompts so that people can understand that chips don’t protect your card as well as YOU can protect it.  What the chips do is reduce the amount of counterfeiting that goes on with cards and they are not an assurance that your card is protected.  My main goal in all cybersecurity is for people to understand that the USER is the center of the cybersecurity assurance, not technology.  Technology does not mean you can be complacent or transfer responsibility or accountability.  It is up to you to maintain security on your personal accounts and this includes credit cards.

Okay, so now people are saying that biometrics are coming to credit cards and that will solve the problem of credit card theft.  But it is already known that hand lotions will interfere with biometrics, so what happens if you apply your antibacterial lotion prior to using the biometrics?  Chances are you will not get that charge to go through.  Even the most secure technological innovation is sometimes defeated by the simplest method.  In the Vietnam War, one of our most advance jets – supersonic, terrain following radar, adjustable geometric wings, etc., was defeated by the enemy using cheap weather balloons and wires to bring those planes down.  The same is true by the technology of today.  In the Star Trek movie “The Search For Spock” Mr Scott said (after he had completely disabled another star ship) – “The more thought they put into the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”  Something to take note for the future.

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