​Why credit-card hackers love America

by: Aimee Picchi

If you live in America and use plastic to make purchases, chances are you’ve been alerted to fraudulent activity on your account.

America is now the favorite haunt of credit-card fraudsters, with a report from Barclays finding that 47 percent of all global card fraud affects cards issued to U.S. residents, even though the U.S. only represents 24 percent of card volume, according to Quartz. Barclays didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

While some might suspect Americans have a target painted on the back of their credit cards because they live in a rich country, there’s actually a technical issue that’s attracting criminals. The U.S. lags other countries in its rollout of cards that are designed to stymie fraud. Most American credit cards still rely on magnetic strips, which are easy to copy, while Europe and other regions have moved forward with chip-and-pin cards, also known as EMV cards, which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa.

EMV cards include embedded microchips that store customer data, which is considered more secure because retailers and card processors don’t store the card data in their systems. With magnetic strip cards, the card number is released to the retailer, which is why so many American retailers — from Target (TGT) to Staples (SPLS) — have been hit by hackers in the last few years.

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