SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A new high-tech chip will soon be appearing on the front of your credit card, if it hasn't already. Its aim is to help prevent fraud and protect your money.

Just like a debit card, the new "chip and pin" credit cards allow customers to enter a pin number instead of the old-fashioned swipe and a signature cards.

"The problem with the magnetic stripe is that it's a technology that's been around for more than 40 years," said Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh, who works in the DA's economic fraud division.

He says prosecutors frequently see credit card crimes all over San Diego County.

"We see everything from people coming in at the airport and being stopped and having stacks of credit cards, to people manufacturing credit cards in hotels," said McHugh.

Chip credit cards have been used in Europe for several years.

In fact, if you travel overseas, you may want to call your bank beforehand and make sure your chip credit card has a pin number assigned to it. Otherwise, your chip credit card may not work in Europe.

Credit card readers at gas stations are not required to be "chip and pin" compliant until next year.

Once they are, the technology will help stop crooks from breaking into gas pumps and installing credit card skimmers.

Currently, the chip technology cannot protect against online credit card fraud because on sites like Amazon customers manually type in a static credit card number.

"Until we find some other mechanism except typing digits onto a screen, it's going to be difficult to prevent online fraud," said McHugh.

Credit cards of the future may generate random security codes on the back of the card to prevent online fraud. Those cards are a lot more expensive because they require a battery to generate the codes.