According to Forbes, “the hype around the Powerball far exceeds any market news this week,” and who are we to argue? Up through yesterday’s drawing, even number-crunching Fivethirtyeight.com  agreed, saying “everyone is freaking out about the 1.5 billion Powerball.”  And, they add, “the stats agree.”
Which stats? Well,  there were nearly “a billion tickets (more than three times the population of the United States)” sold overall — “a ludicrous number!”

As it turned out, of course, one of the winning tickets was sold right here in Southern California, in a 7-11 in Chino Hills. People were so excited that even no none of them were “winners” themselves, they gathered in crowds around the store that night.

Of course, the odds of winning the Powerball remain infinitesimal (though if you do, the NY Times suggests you take the annual annuity, rather than the one time payout, which will result in less overall taxes, and more overall jackpot — if you can wait that long!). You have much greater odds, unfortunately, of having your credit or financial information hacked (indeed, one of our blog writers — who is careful about this stuff — had to replace his own debit card just since we posted here last week, when someone in France tried to charge hundreds of dollars at a cigar store!)

One counter-measure has been the arrival of EMV cards, a new “chip card” standard, requiring new readers, which arrived last fall. If your business hasn’t upgraded yet, contact AVPS!

Lending Tree’s website has a good overview of EMV’s arrival, and what they are capable of — and what they aren’t. For example, the new cards have the chip, but also the older magnetic stripe down the side:

“If you are still using magnetic stripe at any check-out line you are still vulnerable to traditional means of credit theft. Until the U.S. completely shifts to a chip card transaction system, we’re only partially reducing the possibility of our data being stolen because we’re still using the outdated method to transact,” they point out (another good reason for merchants to upgrade soon!)

And when answering  whether the cards are foolproof, they note that “no amount of security is foolproof against attacks or fraud, but it does make it tougher for fraud and card counterfeiting to occur. EMV cards will reduce the amount of fake credit cards, as the new technology will be more expensive to replicate, and reduce the reward for effort for would-be-thieves.”

This would have helped with our own staff experience of a stolen debit information, since the financial institution hadn’t upgraded their own cards to EMV chips yet — making them easier to replicate, and use in far away cigar stores.

Of course, you could win the next Powerball, and just pay cash for everything. But you don’t always want to carry that much cash, do you?

Until then, make sure your cards are secure, –whether with improved online checkout, our iSpy program, or many of the other ways, EMV included, that AVPS can help.

With pretty much everything, except picking lottery numbers.