Credit Cards Are Changing: Are You Ready?

Fraudsters finding their victims in the United States have met their match. Financial institutions across the U.S. have created a new standard to help protect credit card users: EMV technology (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa). EMV technology is simply a small chip on the front of your credit card. Many people have already made the transition to this new card. However, the transition is still taking place. This article will explain and help you understand the new change to EMV, as well as the actions everyone should take.

Why the change to EMV?

EMV Technology is much more difficult to counterfeit. Traditional magnetic strip credit cards use the same information to verify the card at every transaction. On the other hand, EMV cards create a new code for every single transaction. This dynamic data will make counterfeit fraud extremely difficult. Although it is more difficult, there is still a degree of risk involved. Consumers should still use caution and protect their personal financial information just as usual.

How is it used?

“Chip dipping” will soon become the new “swipe”. Consumers will be required to insert their card, chip side in, into a POS (point-of-sale) system instead of the usual swipe. We will all have to be patient: the EMV technology takes a moment to verify your information with your financial institution. After doing so, the card may be pulled. As of now, signatures are still being required to hold the consumer liable for charges. The ultimate goal (2-3 years projected), is to do-away with the signature and require a pin for every transaction.

Do I need an EMV card?

Eventually (probably another 2 years), EMV will be required. As of now, consumers can stay with their traditional magnetic card. Making the transition is extremely beneficial to the consumer. Not only is it a more secure transaction, but it will prevent fraud liability from being shifted to you instead of your financial institution. Most major financial institutions have set a deadline of October 1, 2015 for this liability shift. The liability of a fraudulent transaction will fall on whichever party is the least compliant with EMV.

What do I do if an EMV point of sale system is not available?

The expense of buying EMV point of sale systems will restrict an immediate transition. As a result, traditional magnetic sales are still available for businesses to use. To guard yourself as a consumer, simply make sure that all of your credit cards are EMV compatible. Having an EMV compatible card will ensure that the most negligent party (responsible for fraud liability) will be the business that has not yet ungraded their POS system.

How do I upgrade to EMV?

Most financial institutions are executing a plan to send out new cards. If you have not yet received your new EMV card, they can be requested (usually free of charge). If your institution offers free card design changes, maybe this would be a good time to do so!

Although this technology is new to the U.S., it has been the standard internationally for many years now. Large businesses such as Walmart, Costco, and Target made the transition early in an effort to stay as compliant as possible.


Keaton Dugan


Powercat Financial Counseling

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Start Investing TODAY

Do you consider yourself extremely busy and overwhelmed with the obligations you have to meet? I am sure there are a lot more students just like you.  Almost everyone has a routine they follow. If you are a student trying to get through classes , hold a part time job, train for an upcoming game, participate actively in Greek life or on campus, and making sure to get that daily workout in, you’re not alone. There is one more item that should be added to your daily schedule, and that is thinking of your financial status. Evaluate where you are now and where you want to be in the future.

Investing in an essential necessity to life. Whether it is investing for a short term or investing for the long term, investing for your financial future is just as important as the investment you have put in yourself to be where you are today. Below are two options to consider. (Powercat Financial Counseling can only inform of investment options, but cannot give direct investment choices).


To trade, you can choose a traditional brokerage which offers one-on-one advice with a professional broker. It’s a great advantage to have personal advice from a professional that you choose personally. On the other hand, most traditional brokerages require large sums of money to get started and charge higher fees. Online discount brokerages are great tools to get started for new investors. They offer lower prices for start up deposits and have lower fees and charges for trading. Another essential benefit from trading with an online brokerage are their educational tools, guidance, ease of use, customer service, and most of the larger companies have an app to download.

The most common online discount brokerages are:

TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE, OptionsHouse, TradeKing, and Scottrade.

Do watch out for hidden fees and charges in small print. Research all your options before making a decision!

High Yield Online Savings accounts

If you do not have a savings account, it is highly encouraged to open one. If you have a checking account with your local bank, you can still open a savings account with an online bank. Some of the most secure online banks are listed below with their Annual Percentage Rate (APR).

Synchrony Bank  1.05% APR

CITI Bank              1.05% APR

Ally Bank              1.00% APR

Barclays                1.00% APR

Be careful when choosing a bank. Some online banks charge monthly fees for maintenance or if you go below a minimum amount you have to hold in the account. Some banks even require a initial deposit to open an account while others do not.

Are you worried that investing will not fit into your budget?  No problem! Powercat Financial Counseling can help you set up a plan to manage your budget in a more efficient manner. If you do not have a budget, but would like to set up one, don’t worry. We can help with that too! You may make an appointment through your KSIS account or visiting our site at

Doni Lee

Peer Counselor II

Powercat Financial Counseling


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Identity Theft 101

It seems as if every couple months there is a major company that announces a data breach that compromises hundreds of thousands of customers. Having your identity or credit card information stolen can lead to a long, tedious, and stressful recovery. While it is not possible to completely protect yourself from identity theft, it is helpful to understand tips on guarding your personal information, ways to spot fraudulent behavior, and how to recover your identity.

How to Protect Your Information

Our current electronic world makes it much easier for people to steal sensitive information.  However, not everything is taken only online.  It is important to remember to keep your paper documents and credit cards secure, as well as any activity on the web.  First, don’t carry unnecessary documents with you such as social security cards or passports.  Next, shred any records or statements that contain personal information such as your social security number or bank account information. It is still common for thieves to go through your curbside trash or snatch lost wallets.

The most common information stolen these days is credit card data.  This can be done a number of different ways so it is important to always be aware when you are using your cards.  Thieves can be anyone, even the waitress that takes your card behind the counter and swipes it through a “skimmer.” These are small devices that capture and store your card’s information to be used later, or sold.  Be on the lookout for card readers at ATM’s, checkout counters, or gas stations that look to be tampered with.  Devices can be attached inside of the readers that again store your all of your card’s information.  When using your credit or debit card online make sure that the website is reputable and secure.  Always make sure you have functioning identity theft programs installed on your computer that prevent malware and spyware.  These are types of viruses that can get into your computer and steal personal information, credit card and bank account numbers, and passwords.  As a rule of thumb, check to see if the website begins with https, which means it is secured, rather than http which is not.

How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior

Fraudulent behavior can be spotted by staying up to date and in tune with your credit reports, and bank and credit card statements. Look for charges or withdrawals that you did not make. You are entitled to a free credit report each year on It is recommended you check every year to ensure full coverage. First, confirm your personal information is correct, then look to make sure all of the accounts in your name are accurate. Next, see if there have been any inquiries under your name by companies you haven’t contacted. Another great way to spot irregularity on your accounts is to sign up for alerts and notices when certain transactions take place, such as outside of the US, online, or above a certain amount. Your bank should also contact you if they think there is suspicious activity associated with your account.

What to do if Your Identity is Stolen

  1. Call the companies where the fraudulent activity occurred. Explain to them that it was not you that made the transaction/opened the account/etc. Ask them to freeze or close your accounts so that no more wrongful transactions can occur.
  2. Contact one of the three credit bureaus (they will contact the other two) and ask for a fraud alert. This will make it harder for someone to open an account in your name. Next, pull your credit report and make note of any discrepancies.
  3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and complete an online complaint form. Print and save your form.
  4. Contact local law enforcement and file a police report that someone stole your identity. Take with you all documentation of the incident.

Next you will want to remove the bogus charges or information off your accounts and credit reports.  Although this can be a frustrating process it is important to remember fraudulent behavior can be reversed.




Brady Heidrick

Peer Counselor II

Powercat Financial Counseling

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