New "chip-and-signature" technology to curb credit card fraud languishes alongside many store cash registers because its implementation has been slow in coming along.

Visa and Mastercard complain many retailers have been slow to adopt the technology. But Craig Shearman, vice president for government affairs public relations for The National Retail Federation says, "Retailers have done their part, but it is the card industry that has dropped the ball."

The new cards, with embedded chips, are definitely a step forward in card security. According to Shearman, "the old cards stored data on a magnetic stripe that was about as sophisticated as an 8-track tape from the '60s. These new chips are encrypted. They are very difficult to counterfeit. They are much more secure."

He says the devices for chip-and-signature cards are ready to go in many NRF-member stores.

"We want the card industry to get moving and provide the personnel and resources needed to approve these installations and get this equipment into operation," Shearman said.

Shearman says bankers have tried to spin it that retailers have been slow to adopt these new cards, but "the fact is that retailers have really embraced these new cards and really care about security."

Shearman also says that the card industry, in making the switch, has also changed the rules on who is liable for fraud.

"Basically, the card industry has largely walked away from its share of being liable for fraud and put almost all of it on to retailers. What happens is that now, if someone comes in with a chip card, and the retailers does not have a chip reader, or their chip reader hasn't been certified, if that chip card turns out to be a counterfeit card, the retailer gets stuck with the fraud cost," he said. "And that happens even if the retailer has installed the equipment and done their part and it is the card industry that has not come out and certified."

Shearman says retailers want chip-and-pin technology used elsewhere in the world to replace signatures.

"Anybody who has ever signed a credit card receipt knows that any illegible scrawl will do. A signature does not really mean much. Around the rest of the world, you use a secret PIN number, just like you would use at an ATM machine," he said.

But he says chip-and-signature would still help cut fraud.

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Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5,

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