The ATM Liability Shift Is Here, And Most Don’t Have Chip Readers

Image courtesy of Scott Lynch

Hey, remember the ATM liability shift? You know, how MasterCard’s liability shift means that the operator of any ATMs not equipped with EMV (computer chip) card readers by October of this year would be liable for fraud, and not the credit card network. That deadline was today, and most ATMs in the wild aren’t yet equipped with chip readers.

That’s according to an analysis by Consumer World’s Edgar Dworsky, checking with banks in his home state of Massachusetts, as well as consulting public data about MasterCard’s ATM network across the country.

In Boston, for example, about 8% of all ATMs had been upgraded, even as some banks could boast that their networks have been 100% upgraded.

Dworsky reports that according to a Mastercard spokeswoman, only about 33% of ATMs in its network currently use EMV technology to make it harder to clone cards with a skimmer.

Yet according to self-reported figures by ATM operators, in some cities the figures are lower than that: 11% of machines in Atlanta were reportedly upgraded, according to the analysis, and only 7% in New York City. Let’s hope that banks are just so busy upgrading their ATMs that they haven’t had time to update the website.

Why should this matter to you, an ATM user? ATMs are vulnerable to attacks: the shift to chip readers in retail means that thieves have turned to ATMs and debit cards while the magnetic stripe party is still going on at the majority of cash machines.

Machines that use chips aren’t invulnerable, but are less vulnerable to attacks, and more importantly an upgraded machine means that the liability shift is on the card network, not on the bank or even the grimy locally owned bar where you found the ATM.


Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.