Why merchants still require signatures for credit card buys when it's not needed

phys.org | 11/21/2018 | Staff
Caris (Posted by) Level 3
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Are you still signing for credit card purchases? In most cases, you don't have to be.

More than seven months ago the four major credit card issuers—MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover—separately announced that they no longer required customers to sign for their purchases on any transaction, regardless of size.

Decision - Time - Back - Day - Signature

The decision was a long time coming. Back in the day, validating a signature was the primary way a merchant could protect against a fraudulent transaction. Today, billions of transactions take place online and the ones that do occur in a store or restaurant use EMV chips and other methods like contact-less devices, biometric readers and PINs that provide a much stronger deterrent against fraud. So much so that, according to Visa, merchants who have been accepting EMV chip-enabled cards have seen a 75 percent drop in counterfeit transactions since they were introduced back in 2015.

"You don't have to sign for your purchases unless the merchant requires it," Linda Kirpatrick, who is the Executive Vice President in charge of Merchants and Acceptance in the U.S. for MasterCard told me. "It doesn't matter to us either way."

Kirpatrick - Announcement - Signatures - Merchants - Ability

Kirpatrick said that when the announcement to not require signatures was first made, many merchants were "incredibly thrilled" because it gave them the ability to increase the speed and efficiency of a sale and save on paperwork. MasterCard is even so going so far as to eliminate the little signature strip on the back of its most recently issued cards as well.

Unfortunately, it seems that not all merchants have gotten the memo. In an unscientific survey that I conducted recently, almost all of the center city merchants I visited—from the Rittenhouse-area bakery to the neighborhood grocery store—still required me to sign for my purchases as part of the payment process. It's annoying, and it prolongs the transaction....
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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