Tuesday, 30 May 2023
Culture Modern Living

PIN chip technology not foolproof

I don’t understand this obsession with PIN-chip credit and debit cards. 

When we first opened a current account with our bank, we were given a cash account – that meant you could only access money at the ATM machines.  When we started having regular deposits into the account, the cash account was converted into the most basic current account.  Our debit cards were supposedly changed so that we could use our PINs everywhere.  However, initially, we had some problems and had to sign for everything.  Eventually, everything was sorted out and we were able to use our PINs.

Now that we are able to use our PINs, I don’t feel comfortable with using it everywhere.  Not that I wish we didn’t resolve the problems with the PINs – it was difficult to explain to everyone that we had to sign for every transaction.  Some vendors even refused to accept it.

But, considering how easily PINs can be stolen these days and how well thieves can duplicate cards, I don’t know why everyone still relies on PINs.  When we were unable to use our PINs, we were required to provide IDs to prove that we are the rightful owners of the cards.  To me, that seems a much safer option.  If someone were to steal my card and knew my PIN, they could get away with a lot.  However, if they had to sign my name (and they can forge it) and show ID, it would be a little more difficult.  Thieves can steal another person’s ID, but it would be very difficult for them to steal multiple IDs, especially with photos.  Imagine making different photo IDs for different identities.

I remember a colleague always wrote on the back of his card, “Check ID”.  He never signed it.  He never left space for anyone else to sign it.  It made sense to me.  Of course, it may not be very welcome by clerks.  Recently, I used my credit card and tried to get the vendor to swipe it, rather than use the PIN-chip machine.  He asked, why?  Why not?  At this time, many US credit cards do not have the chip technology, so it has to be swiped anyway, so why do these vendors give us such a hard time with it?  I had to lie and say that I didn’t have a PIN for it.  He then acted like I had stolen the card.  I had to patiently ask that he swipe it and I would sign and he could check my ID.  He was very reluctant and when the swiping didn’t work, was ready to refuse.  I had to get him to punch in the numbers (as they sometimes have to do when the swipe machine doesn’t work) and it went through without problems.

With this new chip technology, people have become so lax and lazy.  They trust the PIN system to be foolproof, but it isn’t.  Vendors assume that if you know the PIN, the card is yours; and if you don’t have a PIN, you must be a thief.  No one wants to take the trouble to check for ID.  Given that the Brits are so ID card-shy as well, if the PIN system fails, it would be a major catastrophe.

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