Goldhawk Fights Back: A Few Chip Tips

This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at

The bad guys know they better grab some extra bucks while the grabbing is good. Organized crime, including organized gangs, have built a profitable business by skimming information from the magnetic stripe on your card, using hidden cameras at checkouts and at some bank machines to steal your PIN and then cloning your card.

The rest is easy: They send out their mules, their crime soldiers, to charge like a mad bull, using your name and your good credit.

Why all the increased activity right now? The crooks know the easy pickings are coming to a close. The banks in Canada are switching to Chip cards — credit and debit cards that contain electronic chips that the banks say defy duplication by the bad guys.

The new or renewed credit cards you are being sent now have both a Chip and a magnetic strip. In the marketplace conversion to Chip cards, it will take some time for all the merchants to buy the new equipment that will read Chip cards. In the meantime, you might find that a merchant or a restaurant will still swipe your magnetic strip, the old-fashioned way.

If the business is up to date with its equipment, you will be required to insert your card in the reader and leave it in there while you key in a Personal Identification Number, your PIN, to validate the purchase.

In fact, with a Chip card, you use a PIN both for debit card transactions and credit card transactions. The credit card signature is going the way of the dodo. Sure, hardly anybody ever checked your signature with the sample on the back of the card anyway, right?

The potential problem with the new-fangled Chip cards is the fact that we do not have exactly the same kind of zero-liability protection if that Chip card is used fraudulently. More on that next week.

Photo © smiley joanne


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Dale GoldhawkGemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).