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The long road to using chip credit cards

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YORK COUNTY, Pa -- Months have passed since last year's October first deadline for credit cards companies, banks and retailers in the United States to start using chip credit and debit cards.

However, many people are still swiping cards at stores and others haven't even received a new chip card yet.

So, what's the holdup?

The short answer is time and money.

Card companies, banks and retailers are all responsible for paying for the new equipment out of pocket.

"Some merchants are holding off on the chip technology, thinking why should I pay this money now when I'm just going to have to upgrade," said Andrew Hacker, a cyber security expert at Harrisburg University.

Let's go back to 2014.

That's when credit card issuers wanted to change the liability for card-present fraud from them to someone else.

The companies decided to use an EMV standard- or Europay, Mastercard, Visa.

That's the chip on the card that creates a unique security code every time the card is read by these new machines.

Hacker says that makes the chip cards much safer than the old swipe method.

"The machine and the card kind of negotiate how it's sent, so no way that anyone can replay that data from a chip card."

The credit companies came up with an October 1st, 2015 deadline for everyone to switch over to the new cards.

"Now, if the merchants don't comply and don't have the chip readers, they are the ones who are responsible for the counterfeit fraud," said Tara Houser, marketing director at First Capital Federal Credit Union.

That's why smaller financial institutions, like First Capital Federal Credit Union in York county, came up with a plan to send out the new chip cards.

"We actually staggered expiration dates because we did a mass reissue of about 10,000 cards," said Houser.

The credit union had to front the cost to make and send all those new cards.

It does benefit the bank though, taking away most of the responsibility for fraud payments with the updated technology but, that card really isn't helping much if stores don't use the new chip readers.

FOX43 contacted all of the top 10 retailers in the US.

Only two stores - Walgreens and Home Depot - would confirm to us that they are fully using the new chip readers.

Home Depot is no stranger to fraud.

Back in 2014, a data breach affected more than 50 million customers for the retail giant.

The company was quick to make the switch to the new readers to not have all the financial responsibility if it were to happen again.

It also helps you.

"It does benefit the consumer when it comes down do it. It does protect you from those large data breaches," said Houser.

The process of switching over isn't simple.

Merchants need to buy the new chip reader machines, that's the easy part.

The time-consuming issue comes when companies need to install the chip reading software - and make sure it's userfriendly with the companies' existing software.

"There's a certification process that the card companies are requiring for the merchants themselves, the cashiers that are actually taking those cards, as well as the devices," said Hacker.

Merchants and credit card companies don't have to make the switch by law.

It just means those companies that don't are more liable when it comes to fraud.

Chip cards can still be swiped like the old method.

Experts say for some companies, it's just not worth it to spend the time and money to switch over - especially with how fast technology can change.

"We could get 80% of all of the merchants in compliance with the new chip technology and they're already onto the next thing. It's certainly a possibility."

As for the people who are still waiting for new chip credit cards, you're not alone.

According to creditcard.com, only 50 percent of debit and credit cards will have the chip technology by the end of the year.

Bottom line: if and when you have a chip card, use it.