ST. PETERSBURG -- Starting Thursday, businesses that accept credit cards must be prepared to handle transactions with new chip-embedded cards or find themselves paying the bill in the event of fraud.
They’re called EMV cards, and consumers will insert them into a card reader at checkout, rather than just swiping.
The card reader takes the info from the computer chip and authenticates it with your bank, making sure it’s legit, but experts say it still doesn’t guarantee fraud protection.
Merchants are now required to have the new card readers, and fraud liability shifts from the credit card companies to business owners, which means, if your information is somehow stolen from using your credit or debit card at a particular store, the business owner is responsible for the charges, not your bank.
The new technology costs merchants about $500.
Sri Sridharan, Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida, says while this is a step in the right direction, the new EMV cards don’t mean you’re completely protected.
"This is the beginning," Sridharan said. "This will be a transition phase until we have these gadgets where you enter a PIN along with the chip card that you insert into the little slot, until you take that step you are not really fully authenticated."
However, little is expected to change on Thursday at many small businesses. A number of banks and other card issuers still haven't sent the new cards to their customers, who will continue to use their magnetic stripe cards. It's expected that millions of the older cards will still be in use going into 2016. And at least for the time being, it's not expected that thieves will have figured out how to copy the information on the chips.
Gas stations won’t be required to purchase the new chip readers until 2017.