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No Signature Required

No Signature Required

            Have you signed any credit card slips lately?  If you haven’t, you probably are making purchases under $25. Back in 1991, MasterCard introduced its Quick Payment Service program at a few tourist hot spots.  Since then the program has expanded to include locations such as convenience stores, supermarkets and as MasterCard terms it - “a wide variety of other merchant categories where speed is essential”.

            Visa recently announced it was opening up its own No Signature Required program to 98 percent of the more than 800 categories of retailers.  Some of the new retailers that will be eligible for the program include department stores, hair salons, electronics stores and sporting goods shops.      .

             Why “no signature required”?  Doing away with the signature step is one way to encourage the purchase of small items at a faster pace.  Credit card companies hope that these no-signature transactions will speed up store checkouts and encourage more consumers to make everyday purchases with their credit cards.

            As you might guess, not all consumer advocacy groups are on board with such programs. Linda Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego, says that as a consumer, "it does make me nervous" when she isn't required to sign for a credit card purchase. By not signing, there is no signature on a receipt for the cashier to compare to the one on the back of a credit card.  "Thieves will go for these small purchases, and they can add up quite quickly," Foley says.

             Consumer groups are also concerned that as more small items are paid for with credit cards, the speed and ease of no-signature transactions could leave shoppers deeper in debt. 

            The consumer safe method for protecting your credit when using the “not signature required” feature is to check your credit card statement thoroughly and quickly dispute any unauthorized charges.  

 

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