Many of us are getting geared up for the winter season. If you are a local merchant, you probably are even making more preparations. However, as you are getting ready, don’t forget about the looming change that Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are dropping on your counter starting October 1. Beginning October 1, merchants who do not use chip card readers for credit card transactions will generally be held liable for fraudulent transactions.
Traditionally, in the U.S., most credit cards were simply swiped through a magnetic card reader. However, the credit card industry found that it was too easy for criminals to make fake cards with stolen credit card numbers on them. Thieves would somehow find credit card numbers and then make up fake physical credit cards and use them at merchants. In the past, the credit card company would be responsible for any fraudulent charges. As of October 1, that liability will now be shifted to any merchant not using a chip card reader.
How do you know if you have a chip card reader currently? They are often built into a traditional credit card terminal at the bottom of the machine or is a separate little box where a credit card can be inserted. However, unless you started your business in the last year, it is likely you’ll need to upgrade to new equipment. If you are the smallest of business and use a company like Square to process credit cards through your iPad or iPhone they have you covered as well. Square has a new box they offer that reads credit card chips. The company states that they will cover any fraudulent charges from the moment you order the device.
The good news is that if you are a consumer, this “liability shift” does not generally affect you. Your credit card liability continues to be limited, as it was before.
If you are a local merchant and haven’t looked into this yet, it may be a good time to speak with your merchant account provider and better understand what this change means for your business. Nationwide, it is estimated that 80% of small businesses haven’t yet shifted over to chip card readers and this change looms as a potentially big wake up call. Park City prides itself on its small businesses, up and down Main Street, throughout Kimball Junction, and around the Basin.
While it’s likely the big guys like Vail, Walmart, and Smiths are prepared, I’d hate for some of our much-loved, local businesses to get bitten by this.