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Why do Kroger's chip card readers require a PIN?

Posted: 5:50 PM, Mar 16, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-17 14:20:52Z

CINCINNATI -- Remember when checking out at Kroger meant swiping your card?

Not anymore. Cincinnati-area Kroger stores are finally making the switch to EMV chip cards for added security. The move comes months after Walmart and many other stores made the change.

Shoppers Not Sure They Like it

But some Kroger customers who have contacted 9 On Your Side are not thrilled, saying the change has slowed down the checkout process.

"It takes longer," Steve Lipps of Florence, KY said. "And when it does work, it slows everything down. You have to wait, the process is even longer."

But the bigger source of angst: you now have to enter your PIN if using a debit card, even if you use it as "credit," which previously required only a signature.

"I don't like it. You have to put your PIN number in. You have no choice," one woman told us.

Fred Lemkuhl of Independence said he tried to refuse the PIN request.

"I said I'm not going to put my PIN in. They said they we can't continue with the transaction." So he reluctantly pulled out a regular credit card, where he says "I didn't have to use a PIN."

Lemkuhl says he guards his privacy and doesn't want people in line behind him watching him enter his code. He says Home Depot, where he often shops, does not require it.

Another concern: other customers say their bank hits them with a small fee for using debit, such as 25 cents per transaction (it varies by banking institution).

Kroger Explains Change

The whole goal of EMV chip cards is increased security. And Kroger says if you have to enter a pin along with that chip, that's even more security to protect you.

Kroger spokesperson Patty Lesseman said "our primary concern is protecting our customer's security and reducing fraud. We are taking the additional step of requiring a PIN on chip-enabled debit cards to make transactions even more secure. Two layers of protection are better than one. "

Kroger answers your Frequently Asked Questions about the chip card readers in this blog post.

But Lemkuhl still worries about other customers seeing his PIN, so he is  sticking with credit for now.

"I will pull out my pull out my credit card and use it temporarily, to figure out what's going on," he said.

The good news: 10 years of use in Europe has shown that EMV chip cards are more secure, especially when you must enter a PIN number (Europeans even have to enter a PIN when they use credit cards).

As always, don't waste your money.

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