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Thousands of retailers are calling for more time to adopt Chip and PIN guidelines, despite an extensive campaign by the government to boost awareness, a new report claims.

The Forum of Private Business is hoping card issuers will take its concerns on board and extend the deadline given for businesses to install Chip and PIN terminals.

Although many small businesses have already adopted the new technology, recent research shows that around half of retailers are doubtful they will make the 1 January 2005 deadline.

The system will replace signatures with a four-digit PIN number as the main way of proving customers' identities.

When paying, customers use a keyboard on the till to type in their personal number. The digits will then be compared with a code stored on a microchip embedded in the payment card.

Shop owners are being urged to order terminals, as they will be liable for losses where a Chip and PIN card is used fraudulently at a terminal which is not able to accept the new system.

"We call on the credit card issuers to see sense and extend the transition period for businesses to install these new machines, said FPB chief executive Nick Goulding.

"Banks cannot rest on their laurels and expect small businesses to fall into line with Chip & PIN. Banks need to provide effective guidance on how to install the new system and what its costs are.

"They should understand that small retailers do not have the manpower or financial resources of major national retailers and are often unsure how to comply with important changes."

It is hoped that the system will bring down retail fraud, currently costing shops £400m a year.

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