WTOC Investigates: EMV Chips and Card Readers

WTOC Investigates: EMV Chips and Card Readers

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's being called the most significant upgrade to the payments infrastructure in our country in the credit card's 40-year history.

Now, the micro chip is giving consumers a safe guard - and businesses something to think about. WTOC Don Logana investigated the card reader dilemma that is facing businesses across the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. Yours - may be in your wallet, your pocket, or in the mail.

Eight-million merchants in the United States allow you to pay with plastic, installing these new chips into your credit cards. When yours arrives, instead of swiping the old magnetic strip, you'll "dip the chip" into a machine for a few seconds, allowing the chip to communicate with the card reader. You may have already done so at Walmart or Home Depot. Deanne Skinner has.

"You have to wait before you take it out. I find it very...annoying, actually," said Deanne Skinner.

The new microchip cards are called "EMV" cards, which stands for "Europay, Mastercard, and Visa." EMV is the global standard for chip card technology.

"They take a little bit longer when you go through check out. A couple of places are using them now in town," Skinner said.

As a consumer, she enjoys the security, but in the fast-paced world of running the Funky Brunch Restaurant in Savannah, the prospects of needing to install the chip readers for the the EMV cards - is a speed bump.

"When you are ready to leave, it is just adding more time to the process," she said.

There is no shortage of salesmen ringing her phone, trying to sell her on installing the new readers, claiming it's mandated and the law.

"Almost in a threatening way, you have to do this," she said.

"There is nothing that mandates you must switch to EMV readers now," said Antoine Gedroyc.

Antoine Gedroyc is a business technology expert with "One Stop IT," and he sees benefits to the chip changeover.

"As a consumer, it is a great thing because it protects you quite a bit from fraud," Gedroyc siad.

"The main problem here is the credit card and debit card are on two separate networks, so we can't use what we use in Europe, which is the chip and the pin code. It works for debit card, but not for credit card," he said.

If you are like Deanne - own a bar or restaurant and aren't a retailer dealing in large retail or electronics and high risk sales - Gedroyc's advice is to hold off on jumping the gun and installing the new chip readers.

"Wait until this technology is more readily available  than investing now in something that may end up being obsolete," said Gedroyc. "Don't panic. A good thing to write on the back of your card is write, 'see the owner.'

Deanne is heeding Antoine's advice.

"I don't think it's something we need at this time until I have to have them," she said. "I'm most certainly going to wait it out"

The Funky Brunch may be waiting it out, but there are other business who tell me they didn't wait, and they are regretting it. Others are happy with the change. So, it really is up to the particular business if they want to get the new credit card reader.

While credit card companies and banks had until last month to change over to the chip cards, you can also protect yourself further by diligently checking your statements. Also, instead of signing the back of your card, write, 'See the owner, or check I.D.' Give the sales person an extra step in case it gets in the wrong hands.

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