Fixing Common Problems with a Smart Card Reader

A smart card reader.
  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100
What You'll Need
Dry soft cloth
Smart card
USB card reader

There are two types of smart card readers available: those for contactless smart cards and those for contact cards. As the name suggests, a contact smart card needs to be in contact to be read, while the contactless model does not. An example of a contactless smart card reader is the access card for some security systems that allow an occupant to hold up a card with smart card technology to its reader. Even without touching, the reader will read the card information and grant the user access to the building.

An example of a contact smart card is a credit card that has the smart chip implanted in its plastic. Whenever the credit card is swiped, the reader will be able to access data from the smart card. Smart card readers mainly act as a medium between a computer or a terminal to the smart card. Depending on the purpose of readers, they can be designed only as a relay of information to its main host (the computer) or to decode information and act on that information independent of a host. Here are some common problems have risen with the many uses of smart card readers.

Dirty or Scratched Smart Card

If a smart card reader that is attached to a computer via USB stops reading smart cards altogether, the problem might not even rest with the smart card reader. The smart card itself might be damaged. Because a smart card is a microchip, it is very delicate and easy to break. They break easily from the wear and tear of daily usage. Also, these kinds of cards can be kept inside wallets or purses and be scratched or dirtied. If it is dirty, wipe it clean with a dry, soft cloth and try again. If it has been scratched, it might not be repairable.

Inaccurate Driver on the Computer

The computer might not be recognizing the card reader as it should. Try plugging in the smart card reader into another computer and see if the card reader still won’t work. You can also update all Windows drivers on your computer then restart it again.

A Broken USB Port

A smart card reader.

A similar problem occurs when the USB port that the card reader is plugged into has broken down and does not read the card reader properly. Try using another USB port on the same computer and see if it doesn’t work from there.

A Non-Working Smart Card Reader

If all else fails, your card reader is probably broken. If you are still under warranty, take it back to the store and exchange it for a working card reader. If it is not under warranty, then you would need to buy yourself another smart card reader.