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EMV chip-enabled credit cards and debit cards may be harder to counterfeit than the good, old magnetic stripe versions, but there is one thing the two payment methods have in common: They can break.

That’s exactly what happened to one woman who recently shared her chip card woes with WPTV, telling the Florida NBC affiliate that the chip fell out of her card after repeated use. (She said she super-glued it back on and used the card for a month before getting a replacement from her issuer, Chase.)

Dealing With a Broken Chip

It’s not uncommon for any type of credit or debit card to experience some disrepair. This is, after all, one of the reasons payment methods come with expiration dates. But, if your chip card happens to fall apart before its replacement is due to arrive, you should call your issuer to send a new one right away.

“In the rare instance this occurs, customers can contact us by calling the number on the back of their card,” a spokesperson for Chase said in an email.

“Our top recommendation is for the cardholder to call us and request a new card,” a spokesperson for Wells Fargo said in an email. “When their replacement card comes, it will have a different expiration date and CVV… so cardholders will need to update any recurring payments they have on that card.”

If you don’t update the information on bills set to auto-pay for recurring charges, like a monthly gym membership, you could miss a payment and ultimately hurt your credit score. (You can go here to learn more about what to do once you get a replacement card.) You can see how missed payments are affecting your credit by viewing your free credit score, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

A Security Issue?

You shouldn’t fret too much if a broken chip goes missing.

Under federal law, consumers may only be held liable for up to $50 in fraudulent credit card charges, and up to $500 in fraudulent debit card charges, but those limits apply only if they report them within 60 days. Beyond that window, losses could be unlimited. Most major card issuers, however, have zero-liability policies in place that can further shield consumers.

And, beyond these protections, a purported thief couldn’t use that chip to make a payment anyway.

“You cannot make a payment with just the chip,” Jason Oxman, CEO of the Electronic Transaction Association, said. For starters, you have to insert your card, not the chip, into a retailer’s EMV reader. And even if these devices were equipped to accept just a chip, the little microprocessor, which is responsible for providing a dynamic CVV code every time you dip, would be useless, since the code can only be generated if the original card and its chip are together.

“The gold contact on the front of the chip card is actually a contact plate to help power the chip when inserted; not the actual chip technology and it contains no data,” the Chase spokesperson said. “If the chip loses contact with the gold plate encasing it, it is rendered useless; if the chip is cut out or damaged, it no longer works.”

Of course, regardless of what payment method you use — and what state it’s in — it’s still important to monitor financial accounts for signs of fraud. Chips, after all, aren’t a failsafe when it comes to fraud, whether attached to cards or not. (They do little to protect your information, for instance, when you’re shopping online.) And the sooner you report suspicious charges to your issuer, the less hassles and potential liability you’ll face.

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Image: Martin Dimitrov

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