What do EMV chips mean for card security?

Soon, you’ll see a small metallic square on your Northwest debit and credit cards – that’s an EMV chip.  

EMV – which stands for Europay, Mastercard, Visa (the three companies that invented the technology) – is a global standard for cards that use computer chips to make transactions. As of October 1, 2015, liability for fraudulent purchases has shifted from the card issuer to the merchant if the merchant has not implemented EMV-card-reader technology.

What does this mean for you?
Well, not much – just that as a Northwest customer, you’ll be one of the 600 million customers whom Smart Card Alliance estimates will have an EMV card by the end of 2015.

How do I make a purchase with an EMV card?
Unlike traditional cards, EMV cards don’t require you to swipe. Get used to “card dipping” – popping your card into a slot on the point-of-sale terminal and waiting for a moment while the card processes.

Will my EMV card still work in a traditional card reader?
Yes. For the time being, EMV cards will continue to have a magnetic stripe, which can be used in a non-EMV-compliant terminal. Most EMV card readers will also continue to accept traditional cards without the computer chip for customers who have not yet received their new debit or credit card.

Why is it safer?
Every time an EMV card is dipped, a unique code is created that cannot be used again. This creates a level of tracking and control that simply does not exist with the traditional magnetic stripe. If someone copies a magnetic stripe card, data can easily be replicated because the information is static.
If a hacker steals card information from a point of sale that uses magnetic stripe technology, he can use that data to make illicit purchases or create phony transactions that can be converted to cash. With EMV technology, that scenario is impossible – even if the hacker gets his hands on the point of sale data, the uniqueness makes the information useless for most kinds of fraud. Sorry, hackers!

Questions about your Northwest debit or credit card? Call Northwest Direct at 1-877-672-5678.