Why Is My USB Card Swiper Not Working?

Learn how to troubleshoot issues where your USB card swiper may not be working correctly, and what steps you may be able to take to resolve them.

Troubleshooting tips for new USB card swipers

If this is a new device, the card swiper must have the option to swipe in raw card data without using encryption (brands such as MagTek refer to this as Security Level 2). When swiped into the designated card swipe fields in iClassPro, the raw card data will be securely transmitted through a special form to your gateway, which will handle encryption and security from there.

Troubleshooting tips for existing USB card swipers

If you have been using the same USB card swiper and you begin experiencing trouble with your device, try the troubleshooting steps below. If none of these seem to help, you may need to contact the manufacturer.

Check to be sure the Swiper is Getting Power

Check the light on your USB swiper when you plug it into your USB port.  If the light is red, this means the device is not getting power. Most card swipers get their power via the same USB connection that transmits the data.  If you plug it into a bad USB port, it may not be getting enough power to function.

If you see a red light on your swiper when you plug it in, try plugging it into a different USB port.

Check to be sure the Swiper is in Keyboard Emulation Mode (KEM)

iClassPro requires that your USB card swiper is set to Keyboard Emulation Mode (KEM) in order to use the “Credit Card - Swipe/Insert/Tap” payment option.

The easiest way to be sure that your reader is set to KEM is to swipe a card into Notepad or a similar text editing program (depending on your operating system, this may be Notepad in Windows or TextEdit on Mac). To conduct a test:

  1. Be sure your USB card swiper is connected and powered on.
  2. Open your text editing program.
  3. Swipe a card.

The text editor should display the card’s information, formatted similar to this:

%B4111111111111111^SMITH/JOHN ^1612101976110000868000000?;4111111111111111=16121019761186800000?

Examine the data that was swiped to see if any of the following is true:

  • Does the formatting look like the example above?
  • There should be a semicolon in the middle of the data. Is it there?

If the answer to either of these questions is “NO”, your swiper is not reading the data correctly, and this will result in errors. If this is the case, we recommend cleaning the swiper head. There are a few options for cleaning your USB card swiper:

  • Purchase a card reader cleaner from an office supply store or online
  • Used compressed air to blow any debris out the card swiper
  • Use a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol to clean any debris out the card swiper. (If you use this method, be sure to let the swiper dry completely before using it again.)

If your card swiper is reading the data correctly, or if cleaning the swiper does not resolve the issue, please proceed to the next step.

Check to see if Autocomplete/Autofill is Enabled

Autocomplete/Autofill is a feature in some browsers (including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari) that allows you to store contact information and payment data. If this feature is enabled, your browser may be overwriting the swiped data with stored information.

We recommend disabling autofill to avoid any potential issues.

Check Your Power Settings

On Windows, the system can choose to suspend a USB port if it is not being used in order to conserve power.  This may happen if you have “Power Saver” settings enabled, or if you allow your computer to go to sleep or hibernate after a period of inactivity.

If you only use your card swiper occasionally, this means that it may take a moment to recognize that you want to use the port before it re-enables it, and therefore it may not read your first few swipes, or may only read them partially.

To keep Windows from suspending USB ports, review your Power Settings under PC SETTINGS>SYSTEM>POWER & SLEEP.  If you use a computer that is plugged in at all times, we recommend disabling the “Sleep” and “Hibernate” options.

Also be sure to click “Additional Power Settings,” then click on your default Power Plan and check to see if the “USB Selective Suspend Settings” option is enabled in the “USB” section. (You will need to click on “Change Advanced Power Settings” to view these options.)

Computers running Mac OS can also suspend USB ports if they are using too much power, or if you have the "Computer Sleep" option enabled in your "Energy Saver" settings. See https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/set-sleep-and-wake-times-mchle41a6ccd/mac for more information about how to adjust these settings to keep your computer from sleeping.

Check Your Firewall/Antivirus Settings

Some security software, such as firewall and antivirus programs, can prevent USB ports from transmitting data from your swiper to your computer (or may redact swiped data for security reasons). Some software may block the use of USB ports entirely.

We recommend checking with your local IT administrator to see if there are any security settings in place that may be causing these issues. Cisco Firewall and Kaspersky Antivirus are two known programs that offer this feature.

Need more assistance?

Customer support is available at 1-877-554-6776 Mon - Fri, 9 am to 9 pm (CT) and Sat, 9 am to 6 pm (CT).