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The Five Best Ways to Improve Plastic Card Security

Plastic Card Security MeasuresAccording to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft and other scams cost Americans $1.52 billion in 2011. The agency states that identity theft has remained its no. 1 complaint for the past five years. For those who issue credit cards, ID cards and other types of plastic card products, this issue is top of mind because sometimes they end up eating the expenses related to the theft.

Of course, thieves don’t need much of your personal information in order to commit identity theft. They don’t even need your credit card number to steal it! Nevertheless, if you’re thinking about plastic card printing for a sensitive application, it’s a good idea to consider the following ways to better protect your company and your card users.

Five Security Features for Custom Plastic Cards

In a blog post I wrote earlier this year, I discussed the difference between high-coercivity (HiCo) mag stripes and low-coercivity (LoCo) mag stripes. The higher the coercivity, the stronger the magnetic field has to be in order to change the data on the card. HiCo cards are harder to erase. So, for example, hotel key cards should be HiCo. But that would be overkill for gift cards.

Holographic images are flat images that actually look three dimensional. They are a quick and easy way to validate authenticity without the need for special equipment. And because it is virtually impossible to copy a hologram by any known printing technique, it’s one of the best security devices you can implement with your plastic cards.

Signature Panel
Credit cards are not valid unless they are signed by the authorized cardholder. This is not only a good security measure, but also an important way to ensure that a card holder accepts financial responsibility for his or her purchase.

UV Light Detection
UV printing on a plastic card can only be detected using a black light. As with holograms, UV printing is nearly impossible to duplicate.

Smart Cards
The next generation of magnetic stripe technology, smart cards contain an embedded integrated circuit (microchip) that can only be read by scanners with the same programming. You can get contact and contactless smart cards, and I encourage you to read more about them in my last blog post. It’s important to remember that smart cards do deliver a high level of security, but they aren’t right for every application.

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