The October EMV transition is fast approaching. Now is the time for merchants to get serious about making the necessary upgrades to enable EMV acceptance and protect their customers against fraud.

Soon new "chip" or "EMV" cards, using smart technology providing enhanced security, will replace magnetic-stripe cards that use decades-old technology. The letters "EMV" refer to the technology's originating team: Europay, MasterCard and Visa. Having a "chip" means that a customer's payment method includes a tiny but powerful microprocessor, working around the clock to secure consumer data. The chip can't be duplicated by criminals like a magnetic stripe card can, as it creates a unique code sequence for each individual transaction.

Why does stopping credit card fraud matter to your small business? Because come October 2015, liability for counterfeit credit card fraud will fall on businesses that have not yet upgraded point of sale equipment to enable chip card acceptance. Put another way, if your customer's bank has issued a chip card, but your store can't accept a chip card, you will have liability for any fraud resulting from a counterfeit card used in your store.

Upgrading to chip-card acceptance is about much more than just avoiding liability-it's an opportunity to accept new, cutting-edge payment options that your customers want. Not just contact EMV cards, but contactless cards-and even mobile wallets using NFC, or "Near Field Communication" technology.

NFC is a form of wireless communication that allows consumers to pay with their smart phones. Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, among other services, all use NFC technology-and you know your customers will want to pay by phone or wearable device sometime soon.

Also, making the switch to EMV demonstrates to your customers that you care about the security of their personal information. Consumers have consistently said in surveys that they would be less likely to shop at a store that has experienced a data breach.

So how do you simultaneously protect your business and your customers' data by shifting to EMV? It's easy. First, talk to your payments provider, the company that manages your electronic payments. They'll walk you through steps specific to your business on becoming EMV ready-compliance could be as simple as a card-terminal upgrade. Additionally, many EMV point-of-sale units are already mobile-wallet-ready. Given the many benefits and rising consumer demand, investing in mobile payments acceptance along with EMV is a smart decision for business.

Second, train your employees. EMV transaction amounts must be entered into the terminal before a credit card is inserted. The consumer will "dip" their own card into your card reader chip-first and chip-side up, keeping it inserted for a few seconds until the machine signals that the transaction has been authenticated, prompting the consumer to remove their card. If a card is pulled out before the transaction is completed, then the transaction is cancelled.

Finally, empower your employees to educate your customers on EMV. They will need to guide your customers through the first several transactions, as the payment experience changes with EMV. Some of your customers might have questions about how to use their cards, and since you will have already trained your employees, your business will be in a great position to gain trust by answering your customers' questions about EMV. Today is the day to embrace EMV! Visit www.SellSafeInfo.org for more resources on EMV and payments security.