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‘Smart Cards’ Bring Promise of Payment Security in Spokane


In light of security hacks at major retailers this year, local organizations have ramped up efforts to protect citizens. Among them, Spokane’s largest credit union will order ‘smart’ credit-cards for members. Over the next year STCU will roll out more than 62,000 credit cards with a special micro-chip.

STCU Card Services Manager Russell Palmer says chip-equipped cards are key to protecting against hackers who steal information in mass.

Palmer: “We thought if we could get our cards out now, that provides an opportunity the moment that most merchants are able to take them, for our members to be more secure, certainly for us as financial institutions to be more secure, and in the area to really help drive that push toward implementing this technology as well.”

Palmer says some merchants in the Spokane area have the chip technology but aren’t using it quite yet. Target plans to roll out chip-equipped payment terminals this fall.
The smart-cards have a small microchip on the front of the card. Instead of swiping the magnetic strip, customers will stick the card into a terminal and wait for it to read the chip for payment. Palmer says this data is harder to track than the magnetic strip, but for places that don’t take ‘chip’ yet, the cards still have a strip on the back.
Chelsea Maguire at the Better Business Bureau in Spokane says they support a movement towards more payment security. She says they recommend people use a credit card instead of a debit card when possible.
Maguire: “Because with a credit card you’re likely to have very little if any out of pocket expense because of the protection. When it’s connected to your debit card, that’s linked to your checking account, so you could have much more out-of-pocket financial distress even it its replaced in the future.”
The bureau also recommends people have credit or debit cards with a CID number on it, the three or four digit security code, and that online purchases are only made from a site people trust.
The smart cards, or chip-cards, are the newest step in security. STCU will issue the cards first to international travelers, and has plans for debit cards later. Global Credit Union in Spokane is also preparing to release chip-cards.

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio  

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