Have you ever misplaced a credit or debit card? When it comes to ATM or PINless debit card fraud, losing your card can be a heartbreaking experience. You enter the ATM lobby and discover that your card is missing from your wallet.
That means it was either stolen or misplaced. Both scenarios are dangerous to your finances because even a misplaced credit card can end up in the wrong hands.
Data from debit and credit cards was previously stored on a magnetic stripe on the back of the card. It was a simple way to use a stolen credit card to make unauthorized purchases.
Modern cards have smart chips or EMV chips embedded in them to help combat fraud and enhance debit-credit card security. These cards are known as EMV chip cards or smart cards. EMV chips make it harder for a thief to steal your credit-debit card information.
So can you track credit or debit card chips when you lose your card?
Unfortunately, credit or debit card chips cannot be tracked. The EMV chip or smart chip embedded in your card is merely a computer system used for security and payment verification, not a tracking chip. Fortunately, there are other steps you can take to track your card or prevent fraudulent charges from being made on it.
We’ll help you understand what the smart chips do and give you the steps to prevent your lost card from being misused.
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Is There a Tracking Chip in Credit Cards or Debit Cards?
Credit and debit cards do not have a tracking chip. Your card's EMV chips or smart chips are not tracking chips. They are simply a payment verification and security system.
What Does EMV Stand for, and What is it?
EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. These are the three companies that founded the EMV standard in 1994. The EMV standard is simply a security technology used to verify debit-credit card payments. EMV technology is now supported by most other companies such as UnionPay, Discover, and American Express.
Cards that use this technology are called EMV chip cards or smart cards. Instead of a mag stripe, they use a smart chip to store the data needed to process debit and credit transactions.
For example, in the US, credit cards are Chip and signature. In this case, the EMV payment process requires the cardholder to provide a signature to authorize a transaction. Debit cards, on the other hand, are Chip and PIN. You will need to enter a 4-digit PIN code that is secret for you to verify the transaction. This is considered more secure, and it is common outside the US.
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The chip on an EMV card brings more security to your debit-credit transactions than magnetic stripe cards because it’s a fully operating computer system embedded in every smart card; it’s capable of sophisticated authentication.
When you use your EMV card, it creates a unique new number for every purchase that can only be used once. That means these unique numbers cannot be tracked back to your card’s account. It enhances security because it’s almost impossible to have your card number stolen. Even if a thief gets hold of the number you used in your previous transaction, it’s of no use because it cannot be used again.
Since the transaction codes cannot be traced back to your card, you or anyone can’t track your physical card. So if your card gets lost or stolen, you can’t track it with the chip.
How EMV chips are made [Video Guide]
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Can Debit Card Chips be Tracked?
For security and privacy, your debit card chips cannot be tracked. It’s because the EMV chip embedded on your card is not a tracking chip but simply a payment verification system that’s more secure than the mag stripe previously used to store debit card data on the back of the card.
Data stored in a mag stripe becomes very easy to clone, resulting in increased debit card fraud. Against that backdrop, three card companies, Europay, Mastercard, and Visa Card, invented the EMV chip. The chip is tamper-proof which makes the card almost impossible to duplicate.
In the US, debit cards are Chip and PIN or Swipe and PIN. That means the EMV payment verification process requires the cardholder to input a 4-digit PIN code that is only known to them.
To make it hard for someone to trace back your debit card number to your debit card account, the EMV chip embedded on the card creates a new number every time you use it to make a purchase.
Since the per transaction numbers cannot be traced back to your card, it becomes impossible to track debit card chips. This is good for you because it makes it very difficult for someone to steal your debit card information.
Can Credit Card Chips be Tracked?
For your protection, credit card chips cannot be tracked. In other words, there is no way to track a credit card with a chip. If there was, thieves could take advantage of that to violate the location protection you get from your bank.
For instance, you might have experienced your bank declining your purchases or shutting down your card when traveling to new places. Banks do that to protect you from debit-credit card fraud when your card is used to make purchases from unusual locations. This may be frustrating and inconvenient, but it’s for your own safety and protection.
The assumption is that someone else must have stolen your card, and they are trying to use it to run fraudulent transactions from a different place. In such situations, you must call the bank to confirm that you are the one making the purchase. The bank can choose to activate your card or send you a whole new card.
Since credit cards are Chip and sign or swipe and sign in the US, you must sign a receipt to authorize any purchases made using the card. To make it harder for anyone to trace your credit card number, the EMV chip on your card creates a new unique number for every transaction you make.
It makes it hard for credit card chips to be tracked. Even if an imposter steals your credit card data in a past transaction, the data is useless because it can’t be used again.
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Can You Track Your Debit Card in the Mall?
There is a reason why you cannot track your debit card in the mall using the debit card chip. Smart cards, also known as EMV chip cards, contain a chip that stores the data required to verify and authorize payments. There is no way for these chips to be tracked for your safety.
When you make a purchase, the EMV chip generates a new unique number for each transaction. It's the same procedure as withdrawing $5 from an ATM. To complete a purchase, you must enter a PIN code that is only known to you. Previous transaction information is useless in the next transaction. As a result, these per transaction codes cannot be used to track down your card.
If you believe you have misplaced your card in the mall, the best thing you can do is try to track it down manually. If you can't find the card right away, contact your bank to have it frozen so that no one else can use it to make fraudulent purchases.
Keep in mind that your debit card is linked to your checking account. When you make a purchase, money is directly withdrawn from your account to pay the merchant. That means that if it is found somewhere in the mall, it can be used to make purchases online where a PIN is not required.
At the mall, the imposter can also run a debit as a credit. When they use your debit card without a PIN number, this is known as PINless debit card fraud. If a fraudulent person obtains your debit card, your account can quickly become overdrawn.
If you suspect you have dropped your card somewhere in the mall and have no hope of finding it again, contact your bank immediately to freeze or cancel the card.
Can a Chip Card be Hacked?
Nothing is impenetrable to a hacker, especially a fraudster determined to cause financial harm. However, it is nearly impossible to compromise a chip card. Hackers rely on transaction history or static data that has been saved somewhere.
Hackers targeted mag stripes because they contained exact account details, particularly the card number. It made it easier to clone and duplicate the stripes.
EMV chip cards are a different ball game. It’s impossible to trace the card because the card’s EMV chip creates unique numbers for every transaction. Once the numbers have been used, they can’t be used again. That means even if a hacker traces your transaction history, the numbers they get are useless because they can’t be used again.
But hackers use many tricks, with spear-phishing and social engineering being among the top ones. Hackers can still use these tricks and lure you into giving out your chip card details willingly over the phone or through a fraudulent website.
To avoid that, never give your card details such as expiration date or CVV to anyone. Also, avoid shopping on unsecured websites.
Can You Track a Credit Card Location?
EMV chips are payment verification systems, not tracking chips, and are embedded in your card. That means you can't physically locate your card by tracking the chip.
There is a way to notify your bank that you are using the card in multiple locations so that it is not shut down or canceled. Visa's Visa Mobile Location Confirmation app makes it possible.
The app tracks your location by using your phone. It assists your bank in confirming that you are present in the same physical location where your card is being used.
This may be good for you when traveling to new places because your bank would otherwise shut down your card to prevent possible fraud. The assumption is that you will always have your phone at every location you use your credit card.
For this to work, you must be willing to share your location with the app. It means this opt-in service from Visa comes with a kind of trade-off between convenience, and privacy, and security. You must determine which one is more important to you.
There are other things you can do to protect your card vs. constant location tracking via phone. We’ll talk more about that later on in this article.
How to Run a Chip Debit Card as Credit?
You can run a chip debit card as credit. It’s beneficial when you’ve forgotten the PIN code to your card. By processing your debit card as credit, you can sidestep the PIN requirement.
Per the EMV chip payment processing system, debit cards are Chip and PIN or Swipe and PIN, and you will be required to enter a 4-digit PIN code to authorize payment anytime you make purchases with the card.
On the other hand, credit cards are Chip and signature preferred, also known as Swipe and sign. Unlike most parts of the world, you are required to sign a receipt to authorize credit card purchases in the US.
If you use a chip debit card as a credit card, the card changes from Chip and PIN to Chip and Sign. Instead of being prompted to enter your pin, your debit card is processed as a credit card via a credit network, and you must sign a receipt to authorize the payment.
This is useful because even if you have forgotten your debit card's PIN, you can still use it to make purchases. But there's a catch: anyone who finds your card can use it to make online or in-store purchases. PINless debit card fraud, also known as no-pin debit card fraud, is a type of debit card fraud.
To be safe, consider making purchases with a credit card. It includes more consumer protection benefits. Credit card purchases, as opposed to debit card purchases, are loans that you pay back to your card issuer at a later date.
How to Find a Lost Debit Card?
Unless it’s just a mere misplacement, chances are very slim that you will ever find a lost debit card. Whether you believe your card is completely lost or just misplaced, you need to take action.
Remember that a debit card is linked to your debit account, and funds go out immediately after the card is charged. Losing it means that your money is on the line, and a thief can use the card to drain your bank account. If you have six figures in your account, they can take it all!
What to do when you’ve lost a debit card?
If you think that you have misplaced the card, then rush to the last place you remember. Sometimes, you may find it lying on your work desk, turn in to the manager at a grocery store, in a booth at a bar or restaurant, or just somewhere in the house.
Contact your bank
Immediately you realize your card is missing, contact your bank to report the loss. You don’t want to wait until fraudulent transactions are charged on your card. If you believe that the card is truly lost, ask the bank to cancel the card and get a new one.
But if you feel that there’s still a chance of finding it and you need some time to search around, ask your bank to deactivate the card and put it on temporary hold. Either way, your money will be safe.
Check for fraudulent activities
After reporting the loss, check your recent transaction history using your bank's app or online through the bank's website. It will assist you in detecting any fraudulent transactions that you did not initiate. Most thieves begin by making small purchases at a nearby gas station to test the card's functionality.
If you notice any suspicious activity, make a note of the transaction details, including the amount charged, the processing date, and the merchant location. Then, forward the information to your bank.
Cancel automatic billing
Bills will continue to arrive despite the fact that your card has been lost or stolen. Automatic monthly bills, such as cable or electric, will continue to be charged to the card.
These payments will be declined if your card is canceled. If a thief stole all of your money, you could face late payment or overdraft fees. Notify your auto-debit companies ahead of time and provide them with an alternate account to charge the bills to avoid fees. Your cable company, mobile phone, home security system, AT&T Uverse phone service, electric, garbage, water, and gas bills are likely to be auto-debited.
A good way to follow up is to send a letter or email to your bank notifying them of the loss. Also, you should document the original report given over the phone.
Use any other secure messaging service such as online or mobile apps to contact a fraud prevention representative. The bank may need the written report to initiate an investigation, and you may not be credited if you don’t have the report.
Monitor your account
If your card was charged with fraudulent transactions, the card issuer should conduct an investigation in 10 days and report the findings to you within an additional three business days.
During a lengthy investigation, the bank or credit union should temporarily credit your account with the stolen funds. From there, the bank has up to 90 days to resolve the issue. The duration may vary based on the nature of the transaction.
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What To Do When You’ve Lost A Credit Card?
If you suspect you've misplaced your credit card, act quickly. You must act now to prevent a potential identity thief from milking your credit for all it is worth. If your credit card is lost or stolen, take the following steps:
Freeze Your Credit Reports
When you don’t exactly know where your card is, the first thing to do is give yourself a chance to backtrack your movements. That’s simple if your credit card company allows you to freeze or lock specific new credit cards online from your computer or phone.
Freeze your credit records with all three credit bureaus to avoid fraudsters from creating accounts in your name. It merely takes some clicks to freeze or lock your card, and you can later unlock the credit cards with such ease as well.
Contact Your Credit Card Company
Call your credit card company right away to report the loss of your missing card. You can find the phone number for your credit card issuer on your credit card statement or online.
Depending on the card issuer, you can report your loss online or in person. You won’t be responsible for any illegal charges if you notify your stolen or lost card promptly.
Change Your Username And Password
If you have been a victim of credit card fraud, you must immediately update your username and PIN. This can help to protect your account by preventing scammers from accessing your information. If you discover that any of your online accounts, such as your Amazon.com account, has been hacked, change your login information immediately.
What Can You Do To Avoid Having Your Credit Cards Stolen Or Misplaced In The Future?
A credit card can disappear in a variety of ways. You could misplace your wallet (which contains your credit card) or leave your card at a cash register. Being alert in general will help you avoid losing or stealing your credit card in the future.
Here are some practical ways to keep your credit card safe:
Make A Place For Your Card
When you’re done using a card, make it a habit to put it back in the same exact location every time. Use a specific slot in your wallet for each of your main cards, and be sure to place your card in the exact slot after use every time. Slipping your card into a pocket can result in a card disappearing.
Get The App For Your Card Company
Register with your credit card company’s app so that you can immediately freeze or lock your credit card account if it goes lost again. You can also turn on notifications for your credit card spending so that you can be alerted to any unusual purchases right away.
Examine Your Credit Report
You can monitor any changes to your credit score using dozens of free credit score sources from sites like Experian. If you observe any reduction in your credit score, it could be a sign of identity theft.
Consider Account Credit Monitoring Services
There are both free and paid credit monitoring programs. These apps can alert you to any suspected fraud on your credit report, which enables you to take precautions in order to safeguard your personal information.
Do Not Share Your Credit Card Details
Avoid giving any of your credit card information over the phone unless you are 100% sure it’s for a legitimate transaction. You will never be asked for any personal information relating to your credit card by a bank. Don’t provide any info to someone asking for your specific credit card information, such as the CVV number, PIN, or expiration date.
Track a Credit Card or Debit Card with an EMV Chip Summary
An EMV chip is embedded in smart cards or EMV chip cards. The EMV chip is not a tracking chip, but rather a payment verification system. As a result, debit and credit card chips cannot be physically tracked in order to locate a stolen or lost card.
If you lose your card, contact your bank immediately and request that the card be deactivated or cancelled. It will ensure the safety of your funds.
If you simply misplaced the card, deactivating it will give you more time to look for it. Otherwise, cancel the card and request a new one from the bank.
Assume that any fraudulent charges were made on your debit or credit card at the time of reporting. If you followed the proper reporting procedure, your bank will conduct an investigation and compensate you for the loss.
To reduce the risk of loss, always consider using your credit card instead of your debit card to make purchases. Credit cards offer more consumer protection benefits than debit cards, and they are not linked to your bank account.