Information aboutCHIP CARDS

Tower MasterCard® debit and credit cards are now chip-enabled for more secure transactions at retailers' checkouts and ATMs.

Tower debit and credit card holders are protected against fraud by MasterCard's Zero Liability policy. If your card is lost, stolen or used fraudulently, you are not responsible for any unauthorized charges. This policy will remain the same with the new chip cards.

Information for Debit Card Holders
What are chip cards?

Chip cards—also sometimes called "smart" or "EMV" cards—are debit or credit cards that contain a small microprocessor that enhances the security of cards during point-of-sale (in-store) transactions. The microchip holds encrypted information, making it extremely difficult for the card to be copied or counterfeited. When used at chip-enabled terminals and ATMs, the cards add a new layer of security, providing greater protection against credit card fraud that targets consumers and costs merchants and financial institutions billions of dollars a year.

How does the chip technology work?

Each time a chip card is used, it generates a code unique to that transaction. The card and the parties involved in processing the transaction communicate electronically and the chip issues a unique transaction cryptogram that can't be used again. This makes it harder to counterfeit the card or use it fraudulently for in-store purchases. Since every transaction is unique, an attempt to reuse the card data would be denied at the point of sale.

Rather than relying on the static information that is contained on magnetic stripes, chip card-enabled terminals require that chip cards be inserted into the device and that the card remains in the device until the transaction is completed.

What do chip cards look like?

Basically, chip cards look like any other credit or debit card. They will continue to have the financial institution's name and logo, account numbers, an expiration date and the cardholder's name. The chip placement will be visible on the front of the cards, on the left-hand side. The chip is square to rectangular and looks metallic. There will still be a magnetic stripe on the back of chip cards.

How are chip cards different from traditional cards?

Traditionally, credit and debit cards in the U.S. have used a magnetic stripe on the back of the card. The stripe contains cardholder data that doesn't change. In the wrong hands, this data can be skimmed or copied and used to make counterfeit cards, which can then be used to commit fraud.

When will I receive my Tower chip debit and/or credit card?

We will be rolling out chip cards to all of our cardholders the first half of 2016. There is no need to request one. You will receive your new card in the mail along with instructions on how to use it, how to select your PIN, and other important information that you will need to know. Your chip card will continue to have the magnetic stripe on the back. That way, if a merchant's terminal or ATM is not yet chip-enabled your transaction can still be processed by swiping the magnetic stripe the same way you do today.

Will my card number change?

Yes. All debit and credit cardholders will receive a new chip card with a new card number. Joint account owners will have a different card number than the primary cardholder. You will need to update your scheduled and automatic payments/debits with your new card number.

You will also receive a new PIN in a separate mailer. The mailer will include instructions on how to customize your PIN.

When will my current Tower debit or credit card be deactivated?

Once you receive your new Tower chip debit card, you will have the opportunity to activate it and test it before your old card is deactivated.

For chip credit cards, your current card will be deactivated on Chip Day, June 27, 2016. You can activate your new credit card on or after June 27.

Am I liable for fraudulent activity on my Tower debit or credit card if my card is compromised and will this change with chip cards?

No. Tower MasterCard debit and credit cardholders are protected by MasterCard's Zero Liability policy. If your card is lost, stolen or used fraudulently, you are not responsible for any charges that may occur as a result. This will not change with the advent of chip cards. We take the security of our members' accounts very seriously, and use a multi-layered approach to protect member accounts against fraud.

Do all merchants have chip-enabled terminals?

While some merchants have already installed chip-enabled terminals, many merchants have not. Already in use by much of the world, chip cards have a security standard originally developed by Europay, MasterCard® and Visa® (hence the name EMV), as a way to fight card fraud resulting from theft, skimming and counterfeiting. The United States is the last major country to adopt chip cards. Reasons for delayed adoption vary from the sheer number of financial institutions and businesses involved in the U.S., to the costs of reissuing the new cards and converting payment terminals.

The entire conversion process is expected to take a few years to complete. That's why chip cards will continue to have a magnetic stripe on the back. If a merchant's terminal or an ATM is not yet chip-enabled, your transaction can still be processed by swiping the magnetic stripe the same way you do today.

Can chip cards be used anywhere?

Yes. Chip cards are the standard in much of the rest of the world, including frequently traveled places such as Europe, Canada and Mexico. In the U.S., chip cards will continue to have a magnetic stripe on the back so they can be processed by merchants who have yet to convert their card readers to process chip-enabled transactions.

How is a chip card transaction different from a magnetic stripe transaction?

During a magnetic stripe transaction, once the card is swiped and the initial data is read, the physical card and stripe no longer play a role. During a chip card transaction, data flows between the card's chip and the card issuer to verify the card and create a unique transaction. Chip card transactions take a little bit longer than magnetic stripe transactions and timing will vary by merchant.

How do I make a transaction with a chip card?

When making a transaction with a chip card, it's important to leave the card in the terminal until the transaction is complete. If you remove the card too soon, the transaction will end and your purchase will not be processed.

  1. Insert the chip portion of the card into the terminal with the chip facing up.
  2. Follow the prompts on the terminal screen. Depending on the type of ATM, you may be prompted to re-insert your card.
  3. The terminal will display the purchase amount.
  4. When your transaction is complete, you will be prompted to remove your card.

At restaurants, a portable terminal may be brought to your table. Remember, if a chip terminal is not available, you will still be able to make purchases by swiping your card and signing the receipt.

Will I still need to provide a signature or PIN when making an in-store purchase?

In the U.S., cardholders will continue to use a combination of signature and/or PIN depending on the type of card and circumstances (i.e., credit or debit, Visa or MasterCard, terminal and card configuration). Tower debit card transactions at the terminal will require a PIN and/or signature. Tower debit card transactions at an ATM will require a PIN. Tower credit card transactions will continue to require a signature. If you are using your credit card outside the U.S. or for cash advances at an ATM, a PIN will be required.

What about online purchases?

The process of making purchases online or by phone will remain the same with chip cards. Since a chip issues its unique code only when inserted into a chip-enabled reader, the new cards don't yet provide additional fraud protection for online and telephone transactions.

Can cardholders be tracked with their chip cards?

No, chip cards do not contain tracking information.

Will chip cards prevent data breaches?

While chip cards won't prevent the types of large-scale data breaches that have hit some merchants, they do make it extremely difficult to produce counterfeit cards from that stolen data.

Information for Debit Card Holders

Do I need to request a new chip debit card?

No. You'll automatically receive your new chip debit card in the mail. Until then, you can continue to use your current Tower debit card with confidence at retailers, ATMs and online.

Can chip cards be used at ATMs?

Yes. The difference is that instead of swiping your card, you will insert it into the ATM's reader slot. To use your chip card at a Tower-owned ATM, insert your card into the ATM reader slot and immediately remove it. When prompted, reinsert your card. Do not remove it. The card is locked during the transaction. Enter your PIN when prompted. Remove your card when prompted after the transaction is complete.

At non-Tower ATMs, how the chip card is inserted will depend on the type of ATM. At some ATMs, cards will be inserted and will remain in place during the transaction. The ATM will release the card when the transaction is complete. All ATM transactions will still require the use of a PIN.

Will my debit card number and PIN change?

Yes. For added protection, you will be issued a new debit card number and PIN. A second mailer will include your PIN and instructions on how to select a custom PIN if you choose. Once you receive and activate your card, if you have automatic debits set up, be sure to update bill payees like Verizon, BGE, Comcast and any recurring payments like EZ Pass, gym memberships, iTunes.

I have a joint owner on my account. Will the joint owner's debit card number be the same as mine?

No. Joint account owners will have a different debit card number and PIN than the primary cardholder. A second mailer will include their PIN and instructions on how to select a custom PIN if they choose.

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