The Secret Is… the Chip

The Secret Is… the Chip

Here’s why and how!

A few weeks ago I discussed on my radio show how my friend Jake was a victim of having his debit card skimmed and duplicated. Leading to some nefarious individual making purchases at a Peoria, Arizona Walmart. Causing Jake a litany of problems as he tirelessly works to restore and reclaim his money.

Many people have written in to me about this growing issue in America. Not so much identity theft, but the duplicating of debit cards resulting in the draining of bank accounts. Some sharing their experiences while others offering their tips to avoid it. I take extreme caution with the places I use my debit card, however something very poignant has come to light that I must share with my readers that may bring a whole new level of education and it’s something most of us currently find annoying. The chip!

A few years ago a lot of us received a notification from our banking institutions that our cards were being updated with a new chip. We had no choice but to use them by a certain date because the cards without a chip would automatically stop working. If you were anything like me, at first it was more of a nuisance using the chip because of the extended few seconds it took.

But this may change your mind.

It has been proven the chip cannot be duplicated as the strip on your debit card can. Meaning the skimmers can skim the black magnetic strip on our debit cards, but they can’t skim the sophisticated encryption contained in the chip. These skimmers that police and merchants find all the time are typically placed over the opening of an ATM, pay at the pump gas station and have even been found in some non-chain grocery stores. Because of where the chips are located on the cards, they are completely missed by the skimmers that read and copy the data located in the strip.

Now this sounds amazing, but before you remove the veil of fear and run out swiping your chip installed debit card, there’s still a way for your chipped debit card to still be compromised. It all falls on the merchant. If a merchant does not have a chip reader installed or activated and your card has to be swiped – your level of protection is lessened. The earnest is on the merchants.

QuickTrip Gas Station

Locally here in the state of Arizona one of the largest and growing convenience store merchants have yet to activate their chip readers, Quick Trip. Though the chip readers have been out in stores for almost a few years now, this major convenience store has the chip readers in every store but a little red card sticks out of the chip slot instructing consumers to swipe. Therefore undoing the security the chip is meant to provide.

It’s our responsibility to be vigilant about where and how we use our debit cards. If I do use a pay at the pump, I’ll actually physically wiggle the card opening on the gas pump to see if there is any movement or weird looking parts before inserting my card. Never leave your card in the slot for longer than required, less than 3 seconds are needed to pay at the pump. When I enter my PIN, I use my other hand to obscure anyone else’s view of the pumps pin pad. It has been documented that thieves sit in a nearby car and read the numbers you press. And ALWAYS get a receipt!


In addition, I avoid stores that have not taken the extra steps to protect me with a chip enabled reader. If there is a strong desire to visit that store, I’ll withdraw cash from my banks ATM beforehand.

With all things, there is no level of protection that someone – somewhere is not trying to find a way around. The chips may provide a level of protection now, but just like our faith in the debits cards steered us from cash carrying, eventually some bottom feeder will find a way to compromise our chips. So remain extremely cautious of using your chipped debit cards and if you ever question its safety, stop and don’t use it! At the end of the day, that Slurpee purchase isn’t worth you being unable to feed your family because your bank balance is zero.

The next time I get cash and go to a local Quick Trip, I think I’ll ask why they have delayed their installation of chip card readers.