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Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft in Restaurants

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Is your restaurant safe from credit card fraud and identity theft?

 

"Your credit card information is just as vulnerable in a restaurant as it is on the Internet."

     -Howard Beales, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission

 

A 2003 Federal Trade Commission survey showed that over a one-year period, nearly 10 million people – or 4.6 percent of the adult population – had discovered that they were victims of some form of identity theft. The Commission receives between 15,000 and 20,000 contacts a week from victims of identity theft and consumers who want to learn how to avoid becoming a victim.

 

 

 

 

A restaurant point of sale system can be vulnerable to credit card fraud and identity theft. Here are several suggestions as to how you can make your customers better protected against credit card fraud and identity theft:

  • Make sure your restaurant POS system is fully compliant with Visa and MasterCard's Customer Information Security Program (CISP).

    • CISP is a set of security guidelines that Visa and MasterCard requires any merchant accepting their credit cards to conform to. Many restaurant point of sale systems do not comply with these standards. If yours does not, you may be able to get a POS software upgrade that will be compliant with CISP. A merchant who does not adhere to these credit card protection standards can be fined or have other penalties imposed upon them by Visa and MasterCard. For more information about CISP, click here.

     

  • Check that your restaurant point of sale system masks the credit card number and expiration date on vouchers and receipts.

    • Printing the entire credit card number on the vouchers and receipts is a huge security risk for your customers. Most newer systems can mask the number, showing the letter x on the voucher instead of the credit card numbers and expiration date. Make sure that your system is doing this. If your system is not masking the numbers, be sure to contact your POS system provider and ask them if your system has credit card masking.

     

  • Use portable credit card terminals that the customer uses at the table.

    • Small, portable terminals are now available that the waiter or waitress brings right to the customer's table, allowing them to swipe the cards themselves. The credit card never leaves the customer's possession, eliminating the risk that an employee will "skim" the card, or record the card's data (number, expiration date, customer's name) for their own use in credit card fraud.

 

 

The FTC’s identity theft Web site, www.consumer.gov/idtheft, has more information regarding credit card fraud and identity theft as well as an online complaint form in which victims can enter their complaint into the clearinghouse.

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