If you accept credit or debit cards, changes in technology might be leaving you in a costly bind.

Until now, business owners were not held liable when a thief used a stolen or counterfeit card when paying for goods and services. The responsibility fell to the bank that issued the card.

Not anymore.

On Oct. 1, everyone in the U.S. was supposed to have received a new secure, chip-enabled debit or credit card.

It’s great news for American consumers, because each card has EMV chip technology — a unique microchip that makes it difficult for anyone to access, copy or use the information on the card while being used for legitimate card transactions.

Although this extra protection is also great news for business owners, it comes with a condition — you must install new point-of-sale (POS, which is an incredibly unfortunate acronym) card readers or you’ll be on the hook for any security lapses or fraudulent charges.

“I was not aware of any new equipment,” says Lisa Deutsch Robinett, who uses Square.


The Pavillion, Wyo., farrier is not alone. Surveys leading up to the Oct. 1 deadline found that as many as 42% of small business owners also are not aware. Even after the deadline passed, a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found that 30% of small business owners are very familiar with the cards, while about half are only somewhat familiar and 23% don’t know anything about them.

NFIB Research Director Holly Wade is concerned with those findings and encourages all small business owners — including farriers — to get the new equipment.

“The potential risk for some small businesses is that they could be liable for additional fraudulent purchases if they don’t have the new hardware,” she says. “That’s a significant risk for some small businesses. What worries us is that a sizeable minority of business owners don’t know the kind of trouble they face if they’re not prepared.”

So, how can you get the new equipment and avoid liability? Whether you use Square, QuickBooks from Intuit, PayPal or another supplier, contact them as soon as possible. Because of the unprecedented demand for the new readers, delivery time can be lengthy.