credit & debt

Making the Transition to Credit Cards With Microchips

Cards with chips are more secure than those involving magnetic stripes.

Keep an eye on the mail for credit and debit cards that contain a microchip as well as a magnetic stripe. Starting October 1, if a thief uses a counterfeit card to make an in-store purchase, any issuer that hasn’t added a chip to its card and any merchant that hasn’t made its payment terminals compatible with the new technology (called EMV) may be liable for the fraudulent amount. Previously, card issuers took responsibility for such transactions. Consumer protections remain the same: You’ll have zero liability for credit card fraud, and you likely won’t have to pay for an unauthorized debit card purchase.

EMV transactions are more secure than those involving a magnetic stripe because the data moving between the card and payment terminal is unique, which makes it useless to criminals who want to clone cards. But despite the obvious incentive, banks and merchants are a long way from completing the shift.

Eight financial institutions, which represent about half of all the payment-card volume in the U.S., estimate that 63% of their credit and debit cards will have chips by the end of the year, according to the Payments Security Task Force. Chip-enabled debit cards are behind schedule because they have to meet stricter compliance regulations than credit cards. Small banks and merchants, who lack deep pockets, are also more likely to miss the deadline. If you haven’t received a chip card, your issuer may provide one on request, says Randy Van­derhoof, director of the EMV Migration Forum.

EMV won’t prevent crooks from using stolen card numbers to make purchases online. Continue to guard your card information closely and to check statements for suspicious charges.

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