Confusion over the switchover to new "chip" credit and debit cards and delays in getting those cards into the hands of consumers are creating a golden opportunity for identity thieves, experts say.
When CreditCards.com surveyed the marketplace at the end of September, it found that 60 percent of U.S. credit cardholders still hadn't received a new EMV chip-enabled credit card. Oct. 1 was the "deadline" for merchants to be equipped to accept the new cards - or face liability for fraud committed with an older card - but some card issuers have been lagging in mailing them to customers.
With all the news coverage about the switch to these more secure cards, millions of Americans are watching their mail and wondering when their new cards will arrive.
"This creates a golden opportunity for identity thieves to attack and steal people's personal information," said Adam Levin, chairman of IdentityTheft 911 and author of the new book "Swiped." "Scammers thrive when there's confusion and anxiety because that's when people are most vulnerable."
In a recent blog post, Colleen Tressler, consumer education specialist at the Federal Trade Commission, warned about the problem.
"Scammers are emailing people, posing as their card issuer," she wrote. "The scammers claim that in order to issue a new chip card, you need to update your account by confirming some personal information or clicking on a link to continue the process."