NEW YORK — A majority of small-businesses owners are unaware of an impending shift that could leave them liable for fraud committed with a new generation of chip-imbedded credit cards.
That's the finding of a survey by Wells Fargo & Co., which asked 600 small-business owners about the Oct. 1 deadline to get card readers and software to handle the new credit cards. Retailers and other businesses without equipment to handle the cards could be liable starting Oct. 1 if a customer commits fraud with a chip card.
But in the Wells Fargo survey, only 49 percent of owners of businesses that use card readers for transactions said they were aware of the deadline.
The U.S. credit card industry is switching to chip cards because it's harder for thieves to counterfeit them than it is to make fake magnetic-stripe cards. Chip cards have been in use in Europe for more than a decade, and security experts say there is more fraud in the U.S. than other countries because of the prevalence of magnetic stripe cards. Card issuers are still in the process of sending chip cards to their customers. The goal is for all magnetic stripe cards to eventually be replaced.
Most small business owners haven't made the switch to readers that can process chip-card transactions. Only 31 percent of those who use card readers said they have the new equipment, and only 29 percent said they plan to get it by Oct. 1.
Thirty-four percent plan to upgrade their equipment at some point in the future, and 21 percent said they don't plan to get the new readers.
Forty-six percent of owners who don't plan to get new readers by the deadline said they don't want to pay the costs for buying and installing the equipment and software, which can run into thousands of dollars. And 41 percent said they're not concerned about being liable if fraud is committed.
Many large retailers have already swapped out their card reading systems. Some of the new systems are asking shoppers to dip the cards into a slot on the readers rather than swipe them.
The Wells Fargo survey was conducted in early July.
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