Prevent credit card theft with Chip+Pin (Not Chips & Guac)

Hackers are at it again…

People cannot even get their favorite food anymore without being worried about hackers. This time hackers have targeted Chipotle, stealing credit card details and personal information. Reports indicate the attack occurred using malware which monitored the payment terminals using the standard credit card hack playbook we all are now familiar with: 1) hacker breaks into system through an innocent looking email or stolen credential, 2) install malware, 3) obtain credit card info, 4) ruin a great experience. In short, if you used your credit card at Chipotle restaurants between March 24, 2017, and April 18, 2017, you better check your credit card statement (see How to protect yourself below).

I am kind of surprised actually (well, not really)

So, in the past few months, I have received all new Chip+Pin cards and shredded my old-fashioned magnetic cards. Given the banks had invested in this new security technology*, I was assuming the merchant (the business that scans your credit card for payment) would actually upgrade their systems as well. Thus, I was slightly surprised when I learned Chipotle (which had over 1 Billion in revenue last quarter) was still using an antiquated payment system given all we know about the vulnerabilities.

However, having implemented Chip+Pin and tamperproof ID technologies over the last decade, I realize some organizations are always resistant to change until it negatively impacts their financials…just something we have to live with…so I wanted to share some tips how to protect yourself.

*FYI, Chip+Pin is a security technology that is so hard to hack, most thieves simply do not waste their time trying.

How to protect yourself and prevent credit card theft

The Federal Trade Commission provides independent guidance on how to protect your credit card from theft and what to do if you suspect it or the information stored in it has been stolen. I like these lists because they provide the facts and do not try to sell you anything. In addition to these lists, I have provided some steps you can take to protect yourself depending on how worried you are.

  • Get a prepaid card: This card has a spending max and will help limit your losses for when the next credit card hack occurs. If you are at a merchant that does not accept Chip+Pin, now you can use your prepaid card instead.
  • Decrease your credit limit: Yes, I said..decrease.  Of course, it can be an ego boost, really convenient and potentially provide more cash back to have a spending limit of 50k or more…but do you really need this for everyday purchases? Consider decreasing your limit to $1,000 to decrease your loss potential.
  • Use cash: Oh no… NOT cash. I know cash is a pre-2017 payment technology, but it still works. And instead of needlessly exposing your credit card for a 2-dollar coffee, you can pay cash and eliminate the risk all together.

A more secure tomorrow (I hope)

Please share this knowledge with your friends and family. One of the best ways we can improve security is to learn more about it.