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Do you have a credit card with a chip?

Oct. 1 is the deadline for retailers to be ready to use machines that will read EMV credit cards with chips. EMV stands for the three companies that came up with the standard: Europay, MasterCard, and Visa.

So, I called the two credit unions I belong to ask them when I would be getting my chip credit cards. One said I could call in mid-November and request one. In early 2016, it would be sending them to all credit union members.

The other credit union representative said he wasn’t sure when I’d receive my chip card, but he said, some members had them now and all members would have them by the end of the year. I didn’t get one because they aren’t available yet for the kind of credit card I have.

Not good enough, I told both credit unions. They should have made an effort to have the chip cards ready when merchants are ready to use them.

But I’m not alone. More than six in 10 U.S. consumers who have credit cards still don't have a chip-enabled credit card despite the Oct. 1 deadline for merchants to have the equipment to read them, according to a CreditCards.com report.

Chip credit cards are widely used in Europe and Asia and have been for a long time. In the United States, we haven’t gotten them because credit card issuers, the banks, have been fighting with retailers about who’s going to pay for the costs of conversion. As a result, consumers have had to use stripe credit cards, which are much less safe.

A chip credit card stores information on a computer chip embedded in the card. Stripe cards store the information on a magnetic stripe like a cassette tape that isn’t encrypted and is relatively easy to steal.

In addition, when using the chip card, you’re supposed to enter a PIN number, which adds to the safety of your purchase. However, some banks don’t like this provision. They’re worried if you have several cards in your wallet, you won’t be using the one that you need to use a PIN with because you might not be able to remember your PIN. They’re going to have you sign your name, which isn’t as safe as using a pin number.

Another safety feature of chip credit cards is the credit card reader is brought to your table at a restaurant so your credit card never leaves your sight.

Another change Oct. 1 is that liability will shift. If merchants don’t have the equipment to read chip and PIN cards by Oct. 1, they’ll have to pay for certain types of credit card fraud.

It doesn’t seem as though small merchants are very well informed about the change. A Seattle TV station interviewed four vendors at the Pike Place Market. Only one had purchased the new chip credit card readers.

For merchants that don’t have the new credit card readers, you’ll still be able to swipe your chip card in the old-style equipment.

I for one am glad we’re finally getting chip cards. It’s upsetting that we’ve had to wait to long to get the safer technology due to disputes between bankers and retailers.

Because the United States has been slow to adopt the credit card chip technology, the majority of credit card fraud occurs in the United States, according to eConsumerServices. In 2012, the U.S. suffered $5.3 billion in losses from credit card fraud, or 47 percent of the worldwide fraud total of $11.3 billion.

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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