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'Smart Chip' readers expected in place Thursday

Posted: 7:34 PM, Sep 30, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-30 19:34:10-04
If you haven't seen it already, Thursday could spell a change for the way you spend your money, and it's all behind that little plastic card in your wallet, the one where you keep your money.
 
A new chip built into it is changing up the game, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The larger impact will be felt by businesses.
 
"It's known as chip and pen or chip and signature technology that's being introduced into the us market for debit and credit card payments moving forward," said Wade Barnes, Senior Vice President Director of Retail Banking at 1st Mariner Bank.
 
Right now when you go to the checkout to buy groceries, or stop for that fast food, you swipe your debit card to pay. Moving forward, Barnes said you will instead "dip." 
 
It's happening because of that chip on your credit and debit cards. It assigns a unique code to each transaction, greatly reducing the chances of fraud. One of the more common techniques that fraudsters use is known as the "white card" method, responsible for millions lost every year.
 
When you swipe your card, your account info is stored onto the machine, making it possible for anyone with a "white card" to replicate it.
 
Barnes said with the "smart chip," that's "not possible because there's a unique identifier for each transaction."
 
"It's really all about just protecting the data that our customers entrust us with," said Steven Klein, Director of Real Estate and Accounting at northeastern grocery chain Shop Rite
 
The 2013 hack of customer info at Target is why Klein said their store in Bel Air spent thousands shoring up any holes in their system by locking their servers behind tighter security.
 
Though the new terminals able to read smart chips will come at a steep cost -- around $1,000 each, Klein estimated -- keeping hackers away from customers' money is well worth it, he said.
 
"There's no price that we can put on what our customers' data would be worth,"
 
There is also incentive for businesses to upgrade. Right now, banks and credit companies are on the hook for recovering the costs of fraudulent purchases, not the consumer. However, starting Thursday, businesses without smart chip terminals will be on the hook for shelling out that money instead. 
 
Barnes said banks, such as 1st Mariner, are capable of absorbing smaller loses that businesses may be ill-suited to handle on repeated occasions.
 
"We don't want to see merchants all of a sudden start taking loses," he said.
 
But still, some consumers wondered just how long this will last until hackers catch up and figure out how to infiltrate the new system.
 
"How long until is it going to be before these people trying to steal identities get around that?" said Richard Hill, who had just completed his shopping at Shop Rite.
 
There will be no real change for consumers when, and if, the terminals are widely adopted, Barnes said.
 
If you don't already have the chip on your card call your bank or credit company. Not every company has adapted the technology.
 
Gas stations will have until 2017 to make the switch.