Recently, your bank may have sent you a new credit/debit card in the mail (I got mine several months ago). These new cards prominently feature a shiny metallic security chip, which is meant to make transactions more secure. If you've already received and activated yours, you may also have noticed that the card scanners are a bit different at certain places, and now ask you to insert the chip end of the card into the machine while the transaction processes. If the scanner doesn't have a chip reader, you can still swipe the magnetic strip - but according to a report from Good Housekeeping, you may not want to.
The reason behind this is the same reason that banks are updating your card to begin with. After a recent string of highly-publicized data leaks - orchestrated by hackers upon several popular retailers - which resulted in consumers' credit card information being stolen, there was a demand for more security. The chips turn every instance of card use into a unique transaction, and also help ensure that you're not held liable for fradulent charges - but only if the chip reader was used! If the card was swiped at a store, the store is usually responsible for the missing funds, but guess who they usually pass that on to? Yep, it's you.
Here's an excerpt from Good Housekeeping:
"Banks have been rolling [new chip cards] out like crazy and they’re supposed to be safer - as long as you use them the right way, that is. That’s why the fact that some retailers - including Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, Chick-fil-A, and Panera Bread - don’t have chip card readers up and running at all of their locations is a big concern. You see, if you swipe a chip card instead of inserting it into slot, the merchant is responsible for covering any fraudulent charges - not the bank. And some retailers aren’t in a financial position to cover major security breaches, like that corner store you picked up a gallon of milk from in a pinch. That means you get stuck covering the snafu [...]"
So, if it's that simple, why doesn't everybody have the new readers yet? According to banks, stores are just too slow to adapt and install the new technology. Store owners, however, say that the issue lies with the card companies, who are being too slow with the certification and accreditation process for retailers.
At the end of the day, what this means for you is this: Do NOT swipe chip cards. If the machine doesn't have a reader, use another form of payment. If you swipe a chip card, you do so at your own risk.
Don't forget to SHARE this vital information with all your friends and family.