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Slowly but surely, chip-and-pin technology designed to make debit and credit cards safer is coming to the U.S.

Over the past few months, more and more consumers have been receiving new cards in the mail featuring small gold or silver patches on the front. Stores, meanwhile have been replacing their card terminals to accept the new cards, which are inserted into a small slot, rather than swiped.

So what does the new technology mean for consumers? ABC10 News asked the experts:

1. What’s happening Oct. 1?

On Oct. 1, 2015, the liability shifts in terms of who is responsible in the case of credit card fraud.

“After Oct. 1, either the [credit card company] or the merchant/retailer who has the least secure technology is responsible for fraud,” MasterCard spokesperson Beth Kitchener explained.

Essentially, the Oct. 1 date is being used as an incentive to get more retailers and credit card companies to embrace the new, more secure chip-and-pin technology. Formerly, if a credit card number was used to make a fraudulent purchase at a store, the credit card company was responsible. Now, if the credit card has been updated to a chip-and-pin card, but the store in question did not update its terminal to accept the new card, the store will be held responsible.

2. Will the process change to report fraud?

In a word, no. Kitchener explains that if you spot a fraudulent charge on your account, you’ll still contact your credit card company to report it. What changes will happen behind the scenes, as the credit card company and the retailer figure out which company had the more updated technology – and who will end up paying to resolve the issue.

3. Will the new cards take longer to use?

The chip-and-pin cards may take a millisecond longer than magnetic-strip cards, Kitchener says, but that’s about it. It may feel longer, though, as the chip-and-pin cards are kept in the terminal reader for a few seconds in order to generate a unique security code.

“You and I are very used to going into a store, swiping a card and as the terminal is processing it, we’re putting it back in our bag, not aware of the fact it’s taking time. With the card in the terminal, you don’t have anything to do!” Kitchener said.

4. When will all stores have new terminals?

There’s no official deadline by which all stores need to replace the old terminals with the new ones.

“Depending on the merchant’s existing setup, it varies what it involves to upgrade to the chip technology,” Smart Card Alliance executive director Randy Vanderhoof explained. “A small- or medium-sized merchant that has a standalone payment terminal on the counter — their upgrade is to replace or invest in a new terminal and plug it in and they’re ready to go. For larger merchants, often those payment terminals are connected to more sophisticated backend payment processing and point-of-sale systems, so additional software needs to be programmed beyond the replacement of the terminal.”

Since the chip-and-pin terminals can cost a couple of hundred dollars, smaller mom-and-pop stores may wait a bit to replace them. Of course, this opens up these stores to some risk: If there are fraudulent charges after Oct. 1, they could be held liable.

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