Chances are you’ve begun to receive new bank and credit cards that contain EMV chips embedded in them.  Actually, by this point, you should have the chips in all your bank and credit cards. That’s because major credit cards set a deadline for merchants to accept these new cards on October 1, 2015. Merchants who haven’t met that date can now be held liable for fraudulent charges.

Of course, that has little effect on consumers who suddenly have these new cards and really no idea what they are all about.

Basically, the embedded computer chips are designed to replace the traditional magnetic strip, which is easily counterfeited and basically uses the same code every time it is used. The EMV chip creates a unique code each time it is used, making it hard to fake.

However, the U.S. is embracing these cards slowly, and most of our EMV cards still have the traditional magnetic strip, meaning they can be used in the same way our cards have always been used.

So you have this new technology, but don’t have to use it? Not to worry we are here to help.

Here’s a look at some commonly asked questions about EMV cards as answered by U.S. News and World Report.

Are they really safer?

Yes, they really are safer – for two reasons: They make your physical card harder to counterfeit, and instead of sending all of your credit card information to a merchant when you buy something, they send a unique code that a hacker can’t use if they find it. If a hacker tries to use that code to make a fraudulent purchase, it won’t work. It’s like stealing an expired password.

How will I know I have one?

Look for a metallic, thumbnail-sized square on the front of the card. That’s the chip. If it isn’t there, you don’t have an EMV card. If your EMV replacement cards haven’t arrived yet, there’s a good chance your bank will send you one by the end of the year. Or if you want one sooner, call your bank and ask for one.

How do you use them?

No more swiping. You’ll “dip” instead. You place the card in a slot, where it’s held while you either sign your name or enter a PIN to make the purchase. When it’s over, pull the card out and go on your way.

Are EMV cards the same as chip-and-PIN cards?

Not necessarily. There are two types of EMV cards:

  • The ones that make you sign for a purchase – so-called “chip-and-signature” cards.
  • The ones that make you enter a PIN– so-called “chip-and-PIN” cards.

The vast majority of chip cards distributed in the U.S. are chip-and-signature cards. They aren’t as safe as chip-and-PIN cards – simply because it’s easier to forge someone’s signature than to know their PIN – but banks thought requiring a signature rather than a PIN would create less confusion for consumers and ultimately make the transition to EMV a little smoother.

Will the cards still have magnetic stripes on them?

Yes, for the foreseeable future, all U.S. cards will still have magnetic stripes. You’ll still be able to swipe them, but there’s a catch: If you swipe the card, the new technology will never kick in, and your card information will be sent to the merchant in the old, much less secure way it has for years.

Ultimately, what’s the bottom line?

EMV cards are a long-needed, major step forward in fraud prevention, even though they’re not perfect. (For example, they don’t really do anything to combat online or “card-not-present” fraud.) However, if you don’t have one yet – or don’t know what to do with the one you have – don’t worry too much. The old, traditional way of swiping your card using the magnetic stripe isn’t going away anytime soon. Just know that your transactions won’t be as secure if you keep doing it that way.

EMV cards are the future of secure transactions for customers and merchants alike. If your business is not EMV equipped than you can be held liable for all fraudulent purchases.

Prevent this from happening to you!  Switch your business to be EMV compatible.  We can help you get started. Call us at 856-825-6000 and get all your questions answered.