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Visa Credit Card Acceptance Guidelines

Written by Nickel - 55 Comments

I was recently digging around for information on the Visa website when I ran across a document containing the Visa card acceptance guidelines for merchants. It includes some pretty interesting information that I thought was worth sharing.

Visa credit card rules

What follows is a summary of Visa’s rules regarding card acceptance. I’ve mentioned some of these things in the past, but ultimately decided that it’s worth having them all in one place.

  • Merchants can choose to honor all Visa cards, Visa credit and business cards only, or Visa consumer debit and prepaid cards only.
  • Merchants must always honor valid Visa cards in their acceptance category regardless of the dollar amount of the purchase. Minimum and maximum purchase amounts are a violation of Visa rules.
  • Merchants must always treat Visa transactions like any other transaction (with a minor exception). They may not impost a surcharge for using a Visa card, but can offer a cash discount. This discount cannot be offered for use of a “comparable card” such as a different credit card.
  • Merchants who offer an alternate payment channel, such as telephone or online, are allowed to add a convenience fee as long as it is disclosed, never applied to face-to-face transaction, applied to all forms of payment through the alternative channel, etc.
  • Merchants must include all applicable taxes in total transaction amount, and may not collect taxes separately in cash.
  • Restaurants, cab drivers, etc. can only authorize an account for the known amount, not for the transaction amount plus estimated tip.
  • Merchants may not provide cash refunds for merchandise originally purchased with a Visa card.
  • Merchants must deposit their Visa transaction receipts within five calendar days.
  • All electronic POS terminal are required to provide account number truncation, such that only the last four digits of the credit card number are printed on the customer’s receipt. The expiration date should not appear.
  • Merchants must keep cardholder account number and personal information confidential.
  • Return/exchange policies must be properly disclosed before a transaction is completed, or made available online or via mail for “card-absent” transactions.
  • An unsigned credit card is invalid and should not be accepted. If an unsigned card is presented, the merchant should check the cardholder’s ID, ask the customer to sign the card, and compare the signature to the one on the ID.
  • Writing “See ID” or “Ask for ID” is not a valid substitute for a signature. The customer should be asked to sign the card, as outlined above.
  • Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID prior to completing a transaction, but merchants cannot make the presentation of ID a condition of acceptance.

I don’t know about you, but I’m regularly asked for ID when I make purchases, and I don’t mind. In fact, I’m one of those people carrying around an invalid card because I chose to write “Ask for Photo ID” on the back instead of signing it.

My biggest complaint is when a merchant enforces a minimum purchase requirement. While I fully understand that even small purchases are accompanied by significant processing fees, nothing frustrates me more than getting to the register and being told I can’t use a credit card unless I spend more money.

At the same time, it’s important to recognize that the cashier doesn’t make the rules and is just trying to do his/her job. Thus, if you have a problem with a merchant’s policies, it’s best to take it up with a manager and/or your card issuer.

Source: Visa.com

Published on February 26th, 2010 - 55 Comments
Filed under: Credit Cards

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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55 Responses to “Visa Credit Card Acceptance Guidelines”

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  1. 1
    Brent Says:

    so in following the rules they should never accept your card because you have failed to put your signature on the back of it….is that correct?

  2. 2
    Nickel Says:

    Yes, sort of. Actually, they should check my ID and force me to sign it in front of them to see if the signature matches the one on my ID. This seems to be the one instance in which they are allowed (expected) to check your ID.

    This is kind of circular in that they’re not allowed to check your ID unless you fail to sign your card. Thus, if you write “Check ID” on the card, they have to ask for your ID, ask you to sign the card, and then check the signature against the ID.

    Of course, this isn’t how it works in real life. I’ve never had anyone question my lack of a signature. In fact, most merchants are more than happy to check your ID, and many will do it even if you *have* signed your card.

    As I said above, I don’t have a problem with merchants wanting to see my ID. They’re just trying to prevent fraud and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.

  3. 3
    Floridian Says:

    So I guess my card is invalid also…interesting. Mine says “See ID.” The only place I’ve ever had a problem with that is at the post office…but that was a long time ago – before you could order stamps & other supplies online and have them delivered by your mail carrier. Funny how you can use a card online, but can’t use the same card in person unless it is signed.

    The last rule is also interesting. So it seems the cashier can ask for ID, but if you don’t show any ID, the cashier can NOT refuse to accept the card. I could have some fun with that one ;)
    (if I sign my card first, that is)

    I wonder – what are the penalties if a merchant is reported to have broken any of these rules?

  4. 4
    Sara Says:

    What I am curious about is the gas stations that are now charging extra if you use a credit card. Or rather – giving a “discount” to cash customers. I can see how they are wording it differently, and it doesn’t come up as a hidden surcharge – its just an entirely different price per gallon which is clearly displayed on the pump.

    Im sure they have neatly maneuvered the legalese on that one.

  5. 5
    Brent Says:

    it says its okay to give a discount for cash, just not for other credit cards

  6. 6
    lucas Says:

    “I don’t have a problem with merchants wanting to see my ID. They’re just trying to prevent fraud and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.” — Nickel

    “”"”"”

    Hmmm. Would you have a problem if merchants wanted ID for a cash transaction ?

    You have nothing to hide and are eager to help fight fraud, right ?

    Merchants are more at risk to counterfeit money; if they accept and try to deposit phony bills– the bank can seize all of it, at a total loss to the merchant.

    But merchants risk nothing accepting a valid credit-card number — the card issuer eats the entire amount of any fraudulent transaction.

    Merchants/clerks who demand personal ID for credit card purchases… are either ignorant or malicious.

    And it’s not only an unnecessary inconvenience to customers, there’s a real threat of identity-theft by crooked merchants or merchant employees– your Drivers License (typically asked for) is an information goldmine for thieves, especially when they also have your complete credit-card info in their hand, too.

    Besides, any crook asked for ID on a credit-card purchase… can just say he doesn’t have any other ID with him at the moment — the clerk must complete the transaction anyway under the contractual rules with credit-card companies, unless there’s some other obvious sign of fraud by that crook.

    Valid credit-cards ‘are’ personal ID ! That’s the primary reason they were invented by the original “Diners Club” company.

  7. 7
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    lucas,

    You said: “But merchants risk nothing accepting a valid credit-card number — the card issuer eats the entire amount of any fraudulent transaction.”

    Whoever told you that was seriously misinformed. Issuers hardly ever eat fraud losses – merchants do.

    You said: “Merchants/clerks who demand personal ID for credit card purchases… are either ignorant or malicious.”

    Ignorant of the rules, perhaps, but certainly not malicious. They are trying to protect themselves and YOU against credit card fraud. If it was your card and it had been stolen from you, you’d be damn glad the merchant asked the guy that stole it for identification. You probably wouldn’t loose any money if you reported the theft quickly but you would have the hassles of phone calls and a good bit of paperwork.

    Tom Mahoney, Founder & CEO
    Merchant911, LLC
    Mercahnt911.org

  8. 8
    Eric Says:

    Never had a problem with my lack of signature but ran into some when I went abroad. Lesson: other countries have different enforcement levels.

  9. 9
    lucas Says:

    Tom Mahoney:

    Normal ‘brick & mortar’ merchants are NOT liable for fraudulent credit-card purchases… as long as those merchants follow standard credit-card-company rules for “Card-Present” transactions. The merchant will get paid — even if a stolen credit-card is used.

    However, ‘Liability’ for fraud shifts from the card issuer to the merchant for ‘Card-Not-Present’ sales (mail order, telephone and internet sales). The merchant is generally liable for credit card “Charge-Backs” {bank declines payment}. This reflects the much higher fraud risk with physically separate buyers & merchants.
    Despite that, if it was such a bad liability deal for merchants… no merchant would accept a ‘Card-Not-Present’ sale — but clearly they love the profits involved.

    The specific discussion here is about clerks demanding additional ID for in-person credit-card sales. Such demands are unnecessary and violate normal credit-card-company contractual requirements with merchants. It also risks ID-theft of honest credit-card customers.

    Of course, it’s a 2-way street of risk. There are plenty of crooked or sloppy merchants (especially on the internet) who cheat customers on credit-card sales, or expose customers credit-card & personal information to theft. The news is filled in recent years with massive credit-card data breaches (..like TJX corp.) where tens of millions of consumers had their personal info stolen… due to extreme negligence by “reputable” merchants.

    Average folks should always carefully protect their personal information & privacy. Decline any requests for additional ID and politely insist the transaction be completed according to the rules fully agreed to by the merchant.

  10. 10
    paranoidmuch? Says:

    Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!

    *snicker*

  11. 11
    Nickel Says:

    lucas: No, I wouldn’t show ID for a cash purchase, but the two aren’t anywhere near equivalent. When I talk about fraud prevention, I’m not personally concerned with the merchant side of things. Let’s say my credit card gets stolen. I would *want* merchants to card the thief and turn them away, so I’m willing to deal with that minor inconvenience myself. Sure, I have fraud protection, but it’s a pain in the butt to deal with it. With cash, I don’t stand to benefit, so I’m not interested. Even the merchant wouldn’t benefit unless they went so far as to record the info off your ID and attach it to the cash you paid them. Every time I’ve been asked for ID, it’s been for a cursory name/photo check.

  12. 12
    D. Patry Says:

    So, all of the small, ma & pa stores in Manhattan who do not accept your credit card for transactions less than $10 or even $5 are breaking the terms of their contract with Visa??

    How do almost all bodega’s get away with it? Is it just that no one knows of the rule and no one reports it?

  13. 13
    Drew Says:

    The biggest problem with checking ID is that it is checking something that the merchant cannot themselves verify as being accurate. The merchant has no way of knowing if your ID is yours and they even less likely know what another state’s ID is supposed to look like. My father, before discovering this, would be refused all the time because his legal, valid drivers license was a piece of paper with no photo from New Jersey. His only photo ID was his military ID that contained his Social Security Number on the front.

    The other issue is that ID tends to include your address, including your zip code, on the front. You have just handed a stranger ALL of the information needed to make non-present transactions. An address and CVC2 are easy to remember for a few minutes and it is very easy to change the settings on a terminal so that the customer receipt is not truncated. That means the merchant can easily reprint a copy of your receipt that shows your full credit card number, while also having your address and CVC2 code.

    There is absolutely no reason for a merchant to ask for ID. If they follow the rules as written they get paid. If you follow the rules and just sign your card, you don’t loose your money.

    I think most places get away with minimum purchases and fees is because 1) people do not know, 2) its easier just to pay and 3) VISA lacks a central means of reporting. MasterCard on the other hand, who has very similar rules, does have a website were one can report merchant violations.

  14. 14
    lucas Says:

    Drew — well said.

    It’s extremely naive to routinely hand over extra ID to any cashier, anywhere, anytime… who demands it.

    That demand is already proof-positive that the cashier is violating standard credit-card transaction rules — so why automatically trust him with even more of your personal information ?

  15. 15
    GhostMom01 Says:

    @Tom Mahoney: I worked for Discover for 10yrs. They actually budget for write-offs which included bad debt, charge backs, and fraudulent purchases.

    I made the suggestion that Discover hold the merchant partially accountable for fraudulent charges. They adamantly refused to force any merchants to pay for any part of the fraudulent charges. My suggestion came on the heels of my mother’s wallet being stolen and her Visa card WITH HER PICTURE ON IT was used to purchase $250 worth of shoes at Foot Locker. I have always felt the merchant should be held accountable for that specific fraudulent purchase since I’m sure the purchaser did not find a 60yr old woman to make the purchase for them.

    I also made the suggestion that cardholders be given the opportunity to opt-in and turn on a flag to tell the merchant they was supposed to request an ID for the purchase. Discover turned down that idea too because they

    So, I am not sure where you got your got your information, but I know that at least Discover was concerned about losing merchants and inconveniencing customers. Perhaps Visa/MC are so big they do not care about losing their merchants or customers but I find it hard to believe that.

  16. 16
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    To GhostMom01 and others,

    You are correct and I believe the same is true with the other brands as well. I apologize for confusion. If you’ve been to my site, you saw that I am primarily in the CNP realm where the merchant, not the issuer, eats the losses.

    Lucas’ statement appeared rather broad and gave the impression that merchants were never responsible. As you probably know, that’s only true in the CP world. I should have been more clear.

    As to CP merchants being responsible for losses in cases like you described – you are absolutely right. There is simply no excuse for a fraudulent transaction like that to go through. Merchants, CP and CNP should be expected to do due diligence.

  17. 17
    Mike Z Says:

    I agree that a merchant should not ask for any other ID than the credit card you just gave them – that card should be ID enough. They should not be entitled to any additional information found on my driver’s license. The problem is that if you don’t give them the license when they request it, they won’t complete the sale for you which creates a bigger hassle for me than what it seems to be worth.

    Also, I have noticed that there are maximum limits at gas station pumps…doesn’t this violate a rule? You can’t go in to pay for the gas with a signature based transaction either because nobody has any idea how much gas your car will take (assumption is that you are filling the tank which is why the transaction limit is a problem).

  18. 18
    BSR Says:

    I routinely refuse to show ID for CC purchases. My card is signed, and I patiently explain that they should be checking card-signature against the receipt I just signed and that showing my ID is not necessary.

    I have not once had the merchant refuse to complete the sale for that. A couple of cashiers have called back to the manager and seem to have been told that it was ok, and finished the transaction. No problem.

    I also have noticed a correlation between the type of store and the frequency of being asked for ID. At larger, nationwide chains with (presumably) better training for cashiers I am hardly ever asked for ID. Same for high-volume stores — it slows them down too much.

    It seems to happen more at smaller, local chains. I have the feeling it’s not usually policy, but some of the cashiers think they are preventing fraud by asking. Some have told me it’s for MY protection.

  19. 19
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    BSR -

    The point that you and others are missing is that it WOULD be for your protection if someone had stolen your card. I’m not understanding why folks don’t get that.

  20. 20
    Drew Says:

    As a cardholder I am protected by VISA by following my end of the agreement, signing my card. The merchant is protected if they just follow the rules. Legally, writing “See I.D.” or only checking IDs violates your contract with VISA and if your card is stolen they are no longer obligated to cover your losses.

    Secondly, with today’s technology it is very easy to quickly make a fake ID. A cashier is most likely going to know if it is real if the ID is a fake of another state. Very few merchants would recognize a fake unless it was the type they have and see every day. Like I said earlier, for years my father’s legal drivers license from New Jersey was a piece of paper with his name, address and a few desceiptive items. These types of basic liscenses are still out there and valid.

    Third, statistically speaking, at any given transaction the merchant is more likely to be committing a crime. These people you are trusting to protect you are the most likely, outside of family, to steal your information.

  21. 21
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    As a cardholder you are protected but you have the hassle of dealing with it.

    Have the best of both worlds. Sign the card AND write “See ID” on the back. In either case, the chance of a cashier looking at the back are slim.

    Making a fake ID is, as you say, fairly simple, but it takes some time. If your card is stolen,chances are the thief is going to use it very quickly and then ditch it.

    I’d love to know where you got your statistics on merchants being criminals. Please cite those stats. It’s baloney.

  22. 22
    David Says:

    No Visa card company will give you instructions what to do if you don’t want to keep your credit card anymore. And when you received a new credit card, it will only ask you to activate it such and such. But never tell you what to do if you really don’t want to accept the card.

  23. 23
    Will Says:

    When I worked at Sam’s Club, people would get very mad at me for telling them that i couldn’t accept their card that said “See ID” unless they signed it. It says right next to the box where you chose to write “See ID” that the card is invalid unless signed. So you choose to write something else there? Do you go around writing “Okay” in the “Do not write in this space” part of forms too?

  24. 24
    Stupid Idiot Says:

    “… As I said above, I don’t have a problem with merchants wanting to see my ID. They’re just trying to prevent fraud and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.”

    But will it be a good thing when they sell your card information to somebody, and attached to it your driver’s license with your home address, date of birth etc.?

  25. 25
    Nickel Says:

    Stupid Idiot: They don’t record the info. They just make sure it matches. I guess I’m just not paranoid enough, huh?

  26. 26
    an employee Says:

    I really don’t understand why people get so angry if i ask for I.D because i can refuse a counterfeit dollar if i know it’s counterfeit. I should also be able to ask for some form of photo ID I just wish that ALL credit cards had photos of the card holder on it.

  27. 27
    jon Says:

    The very simple truth around which Tom Mahoney cannot wrap his tiny mind is that merchants have no right to treat consumers like criminals during the course of a routine purchase. This nonsense about, “it’s for your protection,” is rubbish. I’m already protected by my bank, thank you very much, and I don’t need a minimum wage retail worker behaving as though I’m a common thief for that protection. Getting fraudulent charges reversed isn’t much of a hassle at all. In fact, it’s quite easy. So no, I absolutely refuse to show any supplementary identification to a counter jockey if they ask, and I will report any company who refuses to complete a sale to Visa or MasterCard. They signed a legally binding contract and accepted the terms, so they need to adhere to the policies.

    And that is the point that Tom Mahoney is missing, but maybe contractual obligations just aren’t important to him. That sort of thing requires integrity.

  28. 28
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    jon,

    Tom Mahoney has wrapped his tiny mind around more that you might think. I have, after all, been in fraud prevention for a bit over 10 years.

    If you choose to sign your card so that it’s a valid card, and not write “see ID” on the back, that’s fine. It’s not only your right, but YOUR contractual obligation. And you would be within your right to report a merchant that asked for more, although I would suggest that it would be bit of an over-reaction which probably would result in nothing but your self-satisfaction. You’d probably be more productive calling it to the attention of store management – it’s more than likely a violation of their policy.

    My only point is that, especially in the case of debit cards, if a merchant does ask for an ID, he IS protecting the card holder as well as himself, unless, of course, it’s a counter jocky that is also a thief. Whether or not it’s “contractual” is a separate issue.

    You are taking the point of view that it’s YOU that has your card. If someone else had it, you’d be glad the merchant was looking out for you. Maybe you can wrap your mind, or your common sense, around that. You’d be saved a lot of hassle and in the case of a debit card, it ISN’T as easy as you think to get the charges reversed. Your account could be cleaned out.

    And I would also point out that nowhere in this thread have I suggested that a merchant SHOULD ask for ID if the card is signed. I’m aware of the contractual agreements. I’m a merchant, both brick and mortar and on-line. I don’t ask for ID unless “See ID” is on the card.

    I might suggest that you go to my site and do a bit of homework before you question my integrity, sir. I have well over 4,000 merchant members that would vouch for it. I have taught merchants, fraud prevention specialists, and law enforcement what they can and cannot do to prevent fraud. I got where I am because of my integrity, not in spite of it.

    Tom Mahoney, Director
    Merchant911, LLC

  29. 29
    jon Says:

    Why on earth would I go to your insignificant web site? You’ve already demonstrated that agreed upon terms of a business arrangement are not important to you. You’ve also exhibited a profound lack of business sense, “common” or otherwise, and your very first contribution (to use the word generously) to this discussion had to be corrected for its inaccuracy. I pity anyone who walked away believing he/she had been “taught” anything by you.

    If someone else has my card, my bank will take care of it. It’s not a problem. And yes, it is absolutely “as easy as (I) think” with a debit card. Unlike you, I’m not commenting based on what I “think,” but rather what I “know.” I just don’t need to spam comments sections with links to a web site out of desperation for a traffic leak. For someone who “teaches” others about this subject, you could stand to learn quite a few things about it yourself.

  30. 30
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    You’re full of yourself aren’t you? You seem to be the only one that felt a need to “correct” me. Exactly what are you qualifications on the topic? If I knew, I might be able to accept something you have to say.

    But let’s not clutter this site any more. Feel free to email me your qualifications. tom at merchant911 dot org. At that point, I’d be more than willing to enter into more dialog. I’m sure I don’t know everything there is to know.

    To anyone else following this thread, I apologize.

  31. 31
    will Says:

    Hey Tom Mahooney, I “felt a need to ‘correct’” you also, however Jon did such a good job i felt it unnecessary.

    Since you appear to value quantity of responses over their content, let me say:

    You’re a wrong misinformed spammer.

  32. 32
    will Says:

    Hey Tom Mahooney, I “felt a need to ‘correct’” you also, however Jon did such a good job i felt it unnecessary.

    Since you appear to value quantity of responses over their content, let me say again:

    You’re a wrong misinformed spammer.

  33. 33
    will Says:

    Hey Tom Mahooney, I “felt a need to ‘correct’” you also, however Jon did such a good job i felt it unnecessary.

    Since you appear to value quantity of responses over their content, let me say a third time:

    You’re a wrong misinformed spammer.

  34. 34
    will Says:

    hey tom, what was your website again? i think i missed it the last five times you tried getting people to go there.

  35. 35
    Melvin Says:

    ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD SHOW ID WHEN THEY DON’T HAVE TO!

  36. 36
    John Dozier Says:

    Well to many of the people who posted on here I do not ever show ID when using my VISA. Contrary to what you think showing the ID is what gives opportunity for fraud to occur. VISA wants only to compare signatures and NOT show ID in order to prevent Fraud. Trust me when I tell you that unfortunately many cashiers are crooks and love when you show your ID son that they can get all that information to enable them to rob your card! Also to Tom VISA and Mastercard both DO NOT want you to put askk for ID on the card and in fact it is against their general policy. Do some homework before you tell people all this hype!

  37. 37
    John Dozier Says:

    Also I have never heard of Merchants not getting paid in cases of fraudulent card use?? Everywhere I have researched says Merchants get paid and the Card issuer (VISA/MASTERCARD/Discover/etc) absorb the loss…

  38. 38
    spookiewon Says:

    I don’t question your integrity, Tom, but it’s hard to justify you not having a problem providing everything an employee needs to steal your identity in one neat tidy package. The important point here is, though, whether you have a problem with it or not, they cannot require an ID other than the card itself. THAT is the important point, and many many merchants do. I report every one, and hope against hope they’re fined ($2000) since it seems that only hitting them in the pocketbook will stop this insanely dangerous for the cardholder and worthless for the merchant practice. I’m really unhappy when they just have to change the policy and don’t get the fine. I’m sick to death of being inconvenienced by people who make up their own rules.

  39. 39
    spookiewon Says:

    And BTW, Tom, I also wouldn’t use a debit card for a purchase. That’s just asking for trouble, but again, the merchant has not got the right to require ID. His asking for ID won’t protect a debit card either, BTW.

    And @Floridian– The penalty is that the issuing bank instructs the merchant to stop violating the policy. Multiple violations can result in a $2000 fine.

    This is a plain and simple violation of the card acceptance agreement. This is from the most current relevant rules for merchants:

    Mastercard Rule:

    5.8.4 Additional Cardholder Identification

    A Merchant must not refuse to complete a Transaction solely because a Cardholder who has complied with the conditions for presentment of a Card at the POI refuses to provide additional identification information, except as specifically permitted or required by the Standards. A Merchant may require additional identification from the Cardholder if the information is required to complete the Transaction, such as for shipping purposes. A Merchant in a country or region that supports use of the MasterCard Address Verification Service (AVS) may require the Cardholder’s ZIP or postal code to complete a Cardholder-Activated Terminal (CAT) Transaction, or the Cardholder’s address and ZIP or postal code to complete a mail order, phone order, or e-commerce Transaction.

    Visa Rule:

    Page 34 of Guidelines for Visa Merchants:

    Requesting Cardholder ID

    When should you ask a cardholder for an official government ID? Although Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID except in the specific circumstances discussed in this guide, merchants cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance . Therefore, merchants cannot as part of their regular card acceptance procedures refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID . It is important that merchants understand that the requesting of a cardholder ID does not change the merchant’s liability for chargebacks . However, it can slow down a sale and annoy the customer . In some cases, it may even deter the use of the Visa card and result in the loss of a potential sale . Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures . Laws in several countries also make it illegal for merchants to write a cardholder’s personal information, such as an address or phone number, on a sales receipt .If you are suspicious about the transaction or feel you need additional information to ensure the identity of the cardholder, make a Code 10 call.

  40. 40
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    spookiewon: Please go back and read my comments. NOWHERE in there did I say a merchant had a right to ask for ID except in the case of an unsigned card, including one that only says see ID.

    I have read the rules many times, have them posted on my site (which I mentioned a total of ONCE in this thread and was accused of spam) and I frequently quote sections of the rules. I sign my credit cards AND write See ID. I think I’ve been asked for ID twice, maybe three times in the past 10 years- merchants simply don’t do it. It’s also a fact that merchants CAN ask for an ID – they just can’t make it a condition of sale so why would they bother! I don’t.

    John Dozier: Now you HAVE heard of a merchant that has not been paid because of a fraudulent transaction – me. To the tune of thousands of dollars over about a dozen transactions- even after I questioned the validity of the transactions with my processor before allowing them to go through. And I discovered that most on-line merchants have experienced this as well. That was the reason for starting Merchant911 over a decade ago. Get this straight – on-line merchants are almost always liable for fraudulent transactions. We loose the merchandise, the money for the merchandise, the money it cost us to ship, and we’re hit with a chargeback fee on top of it all. That’s the facts.

  41. 41
    spookiewon Says:

    Both M/C and Visa make it clear that asking for or not asking for ID will not change a merchant’s chances in a chargeback situation, so asking for or requiring ID doesn’t benefit the merchant AT ALL. Both M/C’s and Visa’s documentation clearly recommend not even asking for ID for this reason. THAT is the best reason not to bother-there’s no benefit to breaking this particular rule, it just inconveniences your customers and places them at increased risk for identity theft, while benefitting you not at all. If you are suspicious, you are encouraged to call for a Code 10, and this does reduce your possibility of a loss due to fraud. But merchants are aware that this is tantamount to accusing their customer of fraud, and that the customer probably won’t realize that demanding ID is no less an accusation but a much bigger risk.

    And exactly how does this issue have anything to do with online merchants? How, exactly, would an online merchant look at a photo ID?

    Online merchants can’t ask for photo ID so in that context this is irrelevant. Card-present merchants are protected against fraud so long as they have followed the rules for card-present merchants, including the one that prohibits making a photo ID a condition of acceptance. THAT’S the facts.

  42. 42
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    Spookiewon: I see nothing in your last comment that’s contrary to anything I’ve said. In fact, most of it confirms my statements. You may not be addressing me in particular but you and I are the only ones commenting on this two year-old thread. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make.

  43. 43
    Larry Nolan Says:

    I have run into a problem which you have not covered with “Visa Crdit Card Rules” Do these rules apply to Visa debit card. I paid with my debit card. When I tried to return the item for a refund; the merchant reused unless I would give my address and phone number.
    Is this a violation of their agreement?

  44. 44
    John Dozier Says:

    Well said Spookiewon. Tom in an earlier post you clearly state that it is best to write (ASK FOR ID) on cards where a signature is supposed to be made. This is also against VISA and Mastercard policy. I read where you mention that you have worked in fraud prevention but I believe VISA and MASTRERCARD more likely are going to have more expertise in that area and consequently set regulations that are in the best interests of both customer and merchant. It is naturally in their best interests to protect both parties. Peace

  45. 45
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    John Dozier,

    I love the way this three year old post keeps cropping up.

    Please go back and read my posts; I did no such thing. In fact, I said several times that an unsigned card was NOT considered a valid card. I’m very familiar with the relative rules/policies.

    What I pointed out was that anyone that insists on writing See ID on the back of their cards should also sign it (to avoid possible hassle from a merchant that actually knows the rules.) The reality, as you probably know, is that in only about 1% of transactions will anyone even look at the back of the card. In fact, these days, they don’t even look at the front because they never have to put their hands on it.

    Also, I totally agree that the card brands may have more experience than I. I’ve only done it for 12 years. BUT… Make no mistake – they don’t do what’s best for cardholder and merchant. They do what’s best for THEM. If it’s good for the others, it’s collateral.

  46. 46
    spookiewon Says:

    And you keep bringing up online merchants not getting paid for fraudulent transactions in a discussion about asking for ID and fraudulent transactions. How, exactly, would the online merchant ask for ID? Asking for ID only applies in card present transactions. Can you provide any evidence that fraudulent transactions are not paid to card present merchants in card present transactions where the merchant has complied with the terms of the merchant agreement? Please don’t repeat that you or other merchants have not been paid for fraudulent online transactions. It is irrelevant because you can’t ask for ID in an online transaction, so asking for ID would not protect you.

    The fact is, giving ID is a risk for the cardholder, and MC and VISA do not permit a merchant to require it as a condition of sale–with good reason. You have not provided evidence that asking for ID ensures the merchant any protection in a card present transaction, and that is the ONLY time ID could be asked for or given.

    That you are not asked for ID is also irrelevant. I am asked a couple of times a week, and my MC and VISA were refused four days ago because I refused to provide ID. I have reported the merchant, as I do every merchant who refuses. Most back down, but even when they do, it is never without insisting on bring a “manager” into the situation. It holds me and the people behind me up, and it’s bad business, since they can ask, but in the end, they must accept the card anyway. Inconveniencing customers isn’t the way to get them to return.

  47. 47
    spookiewon Says:

    Of course they do what is in their best interest. And it’s in their interest to make sure as many people as possible want to use their card. By extension, it’s in their best interest to make sure as many places as possible accept their card. So it’s silly to contend that these rules aren’t in the cardholder’s and merchant’s best interests.

    You know, every merchant who refuses my cards because I refuse ID says pretty much the same thing: “I’m just trying to protect you!” And that’s a flat-out lie. They do it because they mistakenly believe it’s protecting THEM. They couldn’t give a rat’s a$$ about me. I don’t expect them to, but I do expect them not to lie about it. I sure as he11 trust MC and VISA further than I trust any merchant who would lie to my face and say they are refusing my card without ID for MY protection.

  48. 48
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    spookiewon –

    Like I said, the card brands are for their own interests – the rest is collateral. We agree. But I would argue that not asking for ID is, as you indirectly pointed out, is about speed, not security (” It holds me and the people behind me up…”)

    The only evidence I could provide on CP loss would be anecdotal, third party, gleaned from over a decade and 4,000+ merchants, many of whom have both on-line and brick and mortar operations and have told me that they’ve lost on CP disputes. Please point out where I mentioned an on-line merchant and asking for ID in the same sentence. You’re correct – that’s ludicrous. Having said that, I would add that the culture in the payment industry has shifted a bit over the past couple of years. Remember that this thread started around this time in 2010. Also, merchants pay a few percentage points while cardholders who don’t pay off monthly are normally at 13% or better. Guess who gets more consideration!

    I’m curious as to what area of the country you live. Perhaps the “culture” is different? I cannot remember when I was last asked for an ID – even though I have “See ID” along with my signature. Has to be at least over a year. In fact, I can think of only a few instances where the card even leaves my hand. Grocery stores – nope, I scan it. Gas stations – nope, I scan it. Hardware store – nope, I scan it. I could go on. The only routine exception I can think of is restaurants where the server would like to take my card and disappear. That doesn’t happen – I take it to the register myself.

    I don’t know, so I’m not disputing your point here, but since the rules for merchants require capturing the signature and comparing the signature on the card with the signature on the sales slip, how could a merchant respond to a chargeback? They certainly can’t say they compared the signature – they never saw the card.

  49. 49
    John Dozier Says:

    Tom doing what is best for merchant and customer IS doing what’s best for them. Hello!!! VISA only makes money if Merchant and Customer make transactions. business 101….

  50. 50
    Tom Mahoney Says:

    Technicality: What’s best for the merchant would be lower fees and discount rates. What’s good for the customer would be lower interest rates. It’s a balancing act based on what makes the most money for them. business 201 :-)

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