Many of you may remember that the apparent deadline for credit card companies to issue new EMV chip credit cards to replace the old style magnetic strip credit cards and for merchants to install new card processing equipment to handle those transactions was October 1, 2015, yet here we are in April of 2016 and according to a recent study by CardHub only 33% of retailers have upgraded at least 90% of their payment terminals. In addition 30% of American consumers still have not been issued an EMV chip card. There are many reasons for this failure of both credit card companies and merchants to adhere to the new regulations pertaining to EMV cards, but most prominent is that the deadline date of October 1, 2015 was not a date by which credit card companies and merchants were required to create and use the EMV cards respectively, but rather a date, after which, the credit card companies and merchants failing to create and use the new EMV cards would merely have greater risk of liability in the event of credit card fraud.
EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that created the credit cards with a computer chip that generate a unique, randomly generated token for each transaction thus making the kind of massive data breaches and credit card fraud that we saw in the Target data breach in 2013 all but impossible to achieve. The rest of the world has been using EMV cards for many years, but the United States, until recently continued to use the old technology of credit cards with magnetic strips on the back that contained account information that was extremely vulnerable to theft through skimmers on processing equipment or data breaches at merchants.
The EMV card is not a panacea by any means to protect us from credit card fraud. The EMV card offers no protection from online credit card fraud where the chip is not used. In addition, the EMV cards in the United States generally are tied to a signature for verification rather than the more secure use of a PIN which is what the rest of the world does to authenticate use of the card. However, the EMV card still represents a major step forward in the battle against credit card fraud in the United States. If you do not have an EMV card yet, you should demand one from your credit card company. You should also encourage the merchants with which you do business to switch over their processing equipment to the new EMV equipment.