ST. LOUIS - With huge security breaches at stores like Target and Michael's, you might be skittish when it comes to swiping your credit card. But there's a technology designed to protect you better and one company playing a major part in rolling it out in the United States is right in our own backyard.
It's the combo with the ability to make fraudsters choke, credit cards with chips. Jenna Van Sickle sure wishes she had one. Last year, the math professor noticed something wasn't adding up on her credit card statement.
"About $200 from a clothing store in Manhasset, New York," said Van Sickle.
She wasn't in New York. She was one of the many victims of the Schnuck's security breach. She didn't have to pay the money, but she sure paid.
"I probably spent 20 hours of my life updating all of our utility bills, all of our other bills come to that credit card," she said.
The chip, also known as EMV technology, has been around for more than a decade. It's already standard in more than 80 countries, but not in the U.S. Carolyn Balfany, based at MasterCard's Global Technology Headquarters in O'Fallon, Missouri, is responsible for the company's roll-out across America.
"It is going to further secure face to face transactions," Balfany told 5 on Your Side's Mike Rush.
Unlike the current stripe on the back with static data that doesn't change, the chip on the card communicates with a terminal and it's harder for hackers to get to.
"What it actually does is it creates dynamic data every time you use it, so therefore making each transaction uniquely identified and more secure," said Balfany.
"I believe that it will make things much safer. It will not make things totally safe," said Al Carlson, a Fontbonne University professor specializing in cyber security.
He says the chip will make it much more difficult for crooks to clone credit cards with stolen information, although nothing is foolproof.
"It's an arms race," he said. "When the defender against an attack brings something new into keep the attacker from attacking that way, the attacker goes and finds a new avenue."
With smart cards' record of reducing fraud, some major retailers, including Walmart and Target, already have or are in the process of adding payment terminals capable of accepting the cards. The credit card companies, including MasterCard, hope to have your plastic switched out by late next year, or early 2016.
"As your card expires, your bank or credit union will re-issue your card and you'll see that it has a chip on it," said Balfany.
It's a credit card makeover Jenna Van Sickle can buy into.
"If it could be fraud proof or fraud resistant, that would be great," said Van Sickle.
According to a group called the Smart Card Alliance, there are a number of reasons the U.S. lags behind other countries in implementing smart cards. For example, other countries have mandated their use, it's voluntary here.
Also, the U.S., which traditionally has less fraud, has the largest and most complex system, making it more complicated and costly to make the switch.