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Credit Card Signatures Going Away in 2018

According to the Verge, credit card companies Discover, Mastercard, and American Express have announced plans to stop requiring signatures for purchases in April 2018, which will make Apple Pay even easier. (American Express is eliminating the need for signatures worldwide, whereas the other two are changing policies only in the United States for now.) Signatures are theoretically a fraud-prevention requirement, since they can be compared to the signature on the back of a credit card and verified later. However, cashiers almost never check them, there’s no signature to compare against with contactless payment systems, lots of people sign illegibly, and many transactions are online anyway. Visa has not announced a similar change.favicon follow link


Comments about Credit Card Signatures Going Away in 2018
(Comments are closed.)

Jeff Hecht  2017-12-18 13:28
Although almost no retailers check signatures, credit card companies have used them in handling fraud disputes with customers, which can be useful. On the other hand, many schools no longer teach cursive writing, so many younger people don't have much in the way of a signature.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-12-18 14:10
I imagine that the vast majority of credit card fraud comes in "card not present" transactions at this point in time, so there wouldn't be a signature anyway.

I stopped trying to make my signature at all legible years ago, when it became clear that it was a waste of time when writing on tiny slips of paper or awkward payment terminals.
Michel Hedley  2017-12-18 18:28
The requirement for signatures for credit card transactions disappeared a long time ago in most countries other than the US.

Apple should have deployed its Apple Pay in other countries before attempting to do so in the US where PINS and contactless terminals were not in much use.

When will the US fixation on cheques end?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-12-18 18:40
Yeah, but that's because you had chip-and-PIN. We've finally gotten chip cards, but no one is using PINs yet, so they're even more annoying to use than swipe cards (if hopefully more secure).

Checks are only really useful in person-to-person transactions (like with a kid's piano lessons) or when paying bills via mail. Few people use them in stores anymore.
I'm actually using PINs for all my debit cards (MasterCard) and my credit cards (Visa). Most retailers I go to here in the Bay Area actually offer support for it through their terminals.

What I really don't understand is why a few still force me to swipe and sign even though the reader has a slot for the chip and a numeric pad for PIN entry.

Of course we still have a long way to go when it comes to restaurants. In several European countries I've received a little wireless terminal right at the table so I could use chip & PIN right there. Here in the States almost every sit down restaurant I go to will still swipe and then have me sign. I cannot believe the card issuers and/or banks don't simply force restaurants to use chip & PIN terminals.
As an example of paying by mail, MetLife requires a check to pay its annual long term care insurance premium. Four times I have asked to pay by electronic funds transfer through an ACH transaction and four times I was told it was no problem--if I paid quarterly or monthly with an added service fee for not paying annually. (I forget if credit card payments are simply impossible or incur their own fee in addition to the premium.)

Of course, this has nothing to do with the article or credit cards. Sorry for the derailment and thanks for letting me vent.
Allen Friedman  2017-12-19 14:33
The merchants that still require a swipe have the EMV (chip) hardware, but apparently don't yet have an application that uses the hardware. The software in the US is different than in other regions, so development and deployment varies depending on whose software the merchant is using.

While the brands do hold merchants liable for stolen card fraud if the card used was PIN preferring and the merchant doesn't support PIN, they can't force a merchant to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade their software and purchase wireless hardware.
Gil Woolley  2017-12-19 01:21
Oh thank goodness. I am tall and have to bend way over to sign those machines at check out. My handwriting is bad to start with and bent over and cranking my hand the handwriting is still worse. Many machines make a hash of what i've written anyway. This is good.
Allen Friedman  2017-12-19 14:24
Actually, Apple Pay with biometric authentication (face or fingerprint) doesn't require a signature or PIN if the POS device is using current software.
Michael Lever  2017-12-20 02:57
Surely no signature can be described as illegible. A person's signature doesnt have ti be legible in the popualr sense, all that matters is that it is consistent. My signature tends to be small which means I can easily sign on any lengh of space. On official documents a so-called illegible signature can be authenticated by ensuring that the signatory also writes their name legibly for others beneath the signature. I insist upon that whenever I need someone's signature on legal documents that I have drafted and approved - something in my line of work that is done regularly.