Target is re-issuing all its REDcard credit and debit cards as “chip and PIN” cards, which means that customers will have to memorize another personal identification number when using their new — and more secure — chip-based payment cards.
In doing so, Target will become the first major retailer to adopt the PIN procedure, which is considered safer than what most other retailers are implementing — signature-only chip cards.
The national switchover toward “EMV” chip-based credit card payments to effect Oct. 1, as the U.S. is behind globally in eliminating the hack-vulnerable, magnetic-strip cards. These chip cards either require a signature or a more secure PIN. But most card issuers and businesses in the U.S. are opting for chip and signature transactions.
Target is sending out millions of new cards, and hopes to complete the process by next spring. The company offers three types of cards: credit and debit cards that are only accepted at Target, and a co-branded card through MasterCard that can be used outside the retailer.
“Requiring a PIN offers an additional layer of security to help protect against someone using your card if it is lost or stolen,” Target states on its website.
In 2013, Target was hit with one of the largest, single data breaches ever that exposed consumer payment card data. The personal information of more than 100 million customers was involved.
Most big credit card issuers don’t want to burden customers with memorizing yet another PIN, or are not willing or able to make that jump.
Consumers can contact their bank and ask for an upgraded card that requires a PIN, but the banks are not required to fulfill that request.
“Cyber criminals understand now that stealing from chip and PIN is harder,” Brian Dodge, a spokesperson with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, told CNNMoney. “The U.S. is still less secure than the rest of the world. They are going to focus on the country that has the weakest technology.”