track debit credit card smart card emv - Frugal Reality

Can You Track a Credit Card or Debit Card with a Chip? EMV Chip Cards

Have you ever lost your credit or debit card? When you think of ATM fraud or PINless debit card fraud, losing your card can be a heart-sinking moment. You get into the ATM lobby, and you can’t find your card in the wallet.

That means either someone stole it, or you misplaced it. Both situations pose a real danger to your finances because even a misplaced card can end up in the wrong hands.

Debit-credit card data used to be stored on a magnetic stripe on the back of the card. It was an easy way to use a stolen credit card and charge unauthorized payments on it.

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?

Short Answer: Unfortunately, you can’t track credit or debit card chips. The EMV chip or smart chip embedded on your card is simply a computer system used for security and payment verification purposes, but it’s not a tracking chip. Luckily, there are other steps you can take to track your card or prevent fraudulent charges 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.

Is There a Tracking Chip in Credit Cards or Debit Cards?

There is no tracking chip in credit cards or debit cards. The EMV chips or smart chips embedded on your card are not tracking chips. They’re just a security and payment verification 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.

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.

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.

Can You Track Your Debit Card in the Mall?

You cannot track your debit card in the mall using the debit card chip and for a reason. Smart cards, also known as EMV chip cards, have a chip embedded in them that stores the data needed to verify and authorize payments. For your protection, there is no way these chips can be tracked.

Any time you make a purchase, the EMV chip creates a unique new number for every transaction. It’s the same process when using an ATM to withdraw $5. To authorize a purchase, you will be required to enter a PIN code that is secret to you. The information in previous transactions is useless in the next transaction. That means that these per transaction codes cannot be used to trace your card.

If you suspect that you have lost your card in the mall, the best thing you can do is to try to trace it around manually. If you can’t find the card immediately, contact your bank to freeze the card to prevent anyone from charging fraudulent purchases on the card.

Remember that your debit card is directly linked to your checking account. Anytime you make a purchase, money is withdrawn directly from your account to pay the merchant. That means if someone finds it dropped somewhere in the mall, they may use it to make purchases online where a PIN isn’t required.

The imposter can also run a debit as a credit at the mall. It’s called PINless debit card fraud when they use your debit card without a PIN number. Your account can be overdrawn in no time if a fraudulent person comes across your debit card.

Immediately inform your bank to freeze or cancel the card if you suspect that you have dropped it somewhere in the mall and have no hopes of finding it again.

Can a Chip Card be Hacked?

Nothing is hacker-proof, especially to a fraudster who is determined to cause financial pain. But to a large extent, it’s almost impossible to breach a chip card. Hackers rely on transaction history or static information stored somewhere.

Mag stripes were target candidates for hackers because they carried the exact account details, especially the card number. It made the stripes easier to clone and duplicate.

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 embedded on your card are a payment verification system and not tracking chips. That means you can’t track the chip to locate your card physically.

There is a way to let your bank know that you’re using the card in different locations so it isn’t shut down or canceled. The Visa Mobile Location Confirmation app from Visa allows you to do it.

The app uses your phone to track your location. It helps your bank confirm that you are 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.

Suppose you run a chip debit card as credit, the card switches from Chip and PIN to Chip and Sign. Instead of being prompted to input your pin, your debit card is run as a credit card through a credit network, and you will be required to sign a receipt to authorize the payment.

This is good because if you have forgotten the PIN to your debit card, you can still use it to make purchases. But there is a catch: anyone who comes across your card can use it to make purchases online or in-store. It’s called PINless debit card fraud or no-pin debit card fraud.

To be safe, consider using a credit card to make purchases. It comes with more consumer protection perks. Unlike a debit, where money is taken out of your account immediately, credit card purchases are loans that you pay 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?

Look around

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, use your bank’s app or login into your account online through the bank’s website to check your recent transaction history. It will help you detect any fraudulent transactions that you didn’t make. Most thieves start by making small purchases at a nearby gas station to see if the card works.

If you notice any suspicious activities, write the transaction details, such as the amount charged, processing date, and the merchant location. Then pass the information onto your bank.

Cancel automatic billing

Bills won’t stop coming because your card has been lost or stolen. Automatic monthly bills such as cable or electricity bills will still be charged on the card.

If your card is canceled, these payments will be declined. It might result in late payment fees or overdraft fees if a thief stole all your money. To avoid fees, notify your auto-debit companies ahead of time and provide them with an alternative account to charge the bills. Auto-debit utility bills tend to be your cable company, mobile phone, home security system, AT&T Uverse phone service, electric, garbage, water, and gas.

Follow up

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.

Why Should You Report a Lost Debit Card Immediately?

Reporting a lost debit card early significant benefits. First, your bank will be able to deactivate or cancel the card and prevent fraudulent charges.

If fraudulent charges have already been made on your card when you report it stolen, you’ll be responsible as follows:

  • If you contact the bank within two business days, you will be responsible for $50
  • If you delay reporting beyond two days, your liability goes up to $500
  • If you take more than 60 days to inform your bank or card issuers, you will be liable for all fraudulent charges.

The same rules apply when using an ATM to withdraw $10 or any amount of money.

The earlier, the better! You’ll save money by not wasting time.

How to Find a Lost Debit Card in Your House?

The best way to find a lost debit card in your house is to look around. Begin by checking your wallet or any other place in the house where you put your cards. It’s also possible that it fell somewhere on the floor, under your bed, in your garage, or between the cushions on the couch. Make sure to check all these places.

What if you searched around and lost your debit card in your house?

Contact your bank immediately. If you need more time to search, ask the bank to deactivate the card temporarily. This will ensure that your money is safe as you search around the next few days.

If you don’t have any hopes of finding the card anymore, ask the bank to cancel the card and mail you a new one. If you check online or via your bank’s mobile app to find that fraudulent payments have already been charged on the card, follow the steps above to resolve the issue with your card issuer.

How to Find a Lost Credit Card in the House?

Finding a credit card in the house is the same way as searching for a lost debit card. Search around the house, and if you can’t find it, contact your bank immediately to report the loss. The earlier you report, the better. The process of reporting a lost credit card is the same as a debit card.

The only difference is that when your credit card is lost or stolen, the risk is less than a debit card. Unlike a debit card, a credit card transaction isn’t charged directly to your account. When you make purchases with your credit card, the issuer loans you the money to pay the merchant. You are then required to pay the loan in full at the end of a billing cycle or accumulate interest on the balance.

That means your bank will move quickly to resolve any fraudulent charges on your credit card because their money is at risk too. That’s why it is always better to use your credit card to make purchases instead of a debit card.

Track a Credit Card or Debit Card with an EMV Chip Summary

Smart cards or EMV chip cards have an EMV chip embedded in them. The EMV chip is just a payment verification system and not a tracking chip. That means chips on debit and credit cards cannot be physically tracked to locate a stolen or lost card.

If your card is lost, contact your bank immediately and ask a bank representative to deactivate or cancel the card. It will make sure that your money is safe.

Deactivating the card will give you time to search around if you simply misplaced it. Otherwise, have the card canceled and ask the bank to send you a new one.

Suppose any fraudulent charges had been charged on your debit or credit card by the time of reporting. In that case, your bank will conduct an investigation and compensate you for the loss if you followed the correct reporting procedure.

To reduce the risk of loss, always consider using your credit card to make purchases instead of your debit card. Credit cards have more consumer protection perks than debit cards, and unlike debit cards, they aren’t linked to your bank account.


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