Credit card issuers in Canada are moving to a new system for fighting fraud.
Each credit card will have an embedded computer chip that can store and process data more securely.
And when presenting your card for payment at a store, you will enter a personal identification number, just as you do for debit cards.
The new cards will still have a magnetic stripe on the back to ensure they are accepted in other countries.
The United States is not embracing the chip. But some European countries are ahead of Canada in adopting it.
Now that the first chip cards are being sent out, I'm fielding lots of questions on the new technology.
Question: I have trouble remembering too many PINs, so I switched the code numbers for my CIBC Aerogold Infinite card to the one I use for my CIBC bank card. If I am the victim of credit card fraud, will the bank say I'm liable?
Answer: Visa Canada insists nothing will change once chip cards are widely available.
"Zero liability does extend to PIN transactions," says Visa spokesperson Amy Cole.
"Cardholders must take reasonable precautions to protect their PIN. Visa-issuing financial institutions will outline the steps in their respective cardholder agreements."
Visa Canada has said it's not a problem to use the same PIN for both debit and credit cards.
But according to some banks, doing so could put you at risk of being held responsible for unauthorized use of credit cards, contrary to the zero liability policy.
The problem: The issuers of Visa and MasterCard cards are free to write agreements imposing conditions on PIN use that could make cardholders liable in certain circumstances.
A voluntary code of practice for credit cards, similar to one that already exists for debit cards, is in the works. It can't come soon enough.
Q: I received my new RBC Visa chip card 10 days ago. Much to my surprise and horror, it was noted that "for your convenience, we have set the Personal Identification Number on your new chip card to match the PIN you currently use for your RBC client card."
I was deeply concerned that RBC felt it had the right to disclose my private and personal PIN.
A: Setting the PIN on the new chip card to match the PIN on the client's debit card was done for convenience, according to bank spokesperson Jackie Braden.
"No one within RBC knows or has access to these PINs. All PINs are encrypted," she said.
"We advised clients in the card mailing that it is a good practice to have different PINs for different cards and to visit their branch to change the PIN."
Why are banks lifting the PINs from customers' debit cards if they don't approve of the practice?
This is a mixed message that will only result in more confusion.
Q: Will I use a PIN when doing transactions on the phone or the Internet with a credit card?
A: No, you won't. The chip and PIN technology is designed for face-to-face encounters in retail settings.
Credit card orders by phone or online may involve your being asked for a three-digit code printed on the signature strip. This code (called CVV2) is designed for situations where the card is not present.
Some retailers, such as Air Canada and Best Buy Canada, have gone a step further in adopting Verified by Visa.
This requires cardholders to get a special password they use only when making purchases at specific companies' websites.