By this point, most consumers have a chip card, or a card with EMV technology. Chip cards are preferred by the payment card industry as they contain stronger security measures which make it more difficult for thieves to fraudulently copy card information. The switch to chip cards began a few years ago and merchants were required to upgrade their point-of-sale systems to EMV terminals or risk liability for fraudulent charges, instead of the card issuer or the bank.
Many consumers have noticed that when they use their chip cards at an EMV compliant point-of-sale checkout machine, they are asked to select “US Debit” or “Visa Debit.” But how many consumers actually know what those options mean?
Customers choose “US Debit” if they want to use their PIN (with the possible option of cash back if the merchant has enabled the option). “Visa Debit” requires a signature for the purchase. The problem for many retailers, however, is that when consumers pick “Visa Debit” the money is routed through Visa or MasterCard’s network, and the merchant incurs a fee. “US Debit” allows the transaction to be processed by the merchant’s choice of different networks.
The shift to EMV technology has not been without its problems. Consumers often complain that using chip cards takes longer than traditional swiping. Merchants, particularly smaller ones, have struggled with the costs of upgrading their point-of-sale terminals which is why some merchants still utilize traditional swiping payment terminals. However, it’s important that consumers and merchants remember that chip cards are a safer bet.
For more tips about payment card safety at the terminal or an ATM, check out our blog.
If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.
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