Chip credit cards could mean trouble for shop owners

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HOUSTON, TX-- Do you have a business? Then you probably know today is a big day.  October 1 is the day you're supposed to be set up to accept chip credit cards. They're those new (to America) cards that include integrated circuits. Experts say they're impossible to counterfeit, but you can bet villains are working overtime to make it happen.

As of today, if your store doesn't have a reader for these chip cards and fraudulent charges show up, the bank is no longer responsible. Now it's on you, little shop owner.

"I think that's unfair because they haven't given us very much time to do this," says Aubrey Mendoca, owner of Perimeter Gallery & Frame Shop in Rice Village."It was a very short span, whereas other things, they've normally given six months to a year or longer."

At Fundamentally Toys across the street, they've been trying to make the switch with not-so-great results. "There's been some trouble on the processor vs. point-of-sale system. Them getting their acts together," says Cliff Moss, manager of the independent toy shop, "so we've been waiting on them, and they're in the mail now."

That could mean big problems if fraudulent charges show up before the new readers do. "If we have any trouble between now and then, we might have an issue with the people that did not get us the terminals on time," says Moss. He points out, though, they have never had credit card chargebacks in 20 years of business. "Knock on wood!"

This chip thing is not new technology. Europe has had it for years, but credit card fraud here has gotten way out of control with nearly 100 million affected from just the Target and Home Depot breaches alone.

Fixing this problem won't come cheap. "$800 to $900 to put a new machine in," says Mendoca. Now multiply that times 12 million credit card readers in the U.S., and add in the price of banks having to replace over a billion credit & debit cards.

Is it worth it?

"It seems like it will be safer," says Byron Shaw, a chip card carrier. "I guess only time will tell, you know."

"Given the security that we need and what's going on," says Mendoca, "I think it's a good thing they finally stepped up to that."

Moss sums it up best, "If they didn't transfer the liability to retailers, nobody would get around to upgrading."

That's what you call the bottom line.