Credit Cards: Fees, Minimum Amounts, and Your Rights

credit-cardsAfter eating lunch at a local restaurant yesterday, I noticed that when I was signing my receipt they had printed my whole credit card number on there. I hadn’t seen that happen in years, and I immediately scratched it out. I happened to be with a group of cyber security guys, and they were all in disbelief as well.

It would be very easy for a thief to pick up your receipt just after you leave, then go home and have an online shopping spree. The server or anyone else handling your receipt could do the same thing.

I looked up the laws on this, and it is in fact a federal offense to print out the full credit card number on the receipt:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/alerts/alt007.shtm

Always be vigilant about looking at your receipts anywhere you use a card. It’s easy to quickly sign it and be on your way, but that could mean a lot of hassle later on when you see unexplained charges on your card.

The other annoying credit card related issue is when there are establishments that tack on a surcharge for using a credit/check/debit card. For example, if your purchase is not over $5, they tack on a $0.50 fee for using a card. This is in fact in violation of Visa and MasterCard terms of service:
http://fso.cpasitesolutions.com/premium/LE/06_le_ic/fg/fg-merchants.html#C

Additionally, they cannot require a minimum purchase amount to use a card. This is a very common thing to see, and I can think of 5 places that do it off the top of my head.  More info:
http://fso.cpasitesolutions.com/premium/LE/06_le_ic/fg/fg-merchants.html#B

So, be vigilant when using your card, and ask to speak to a manager if they require a minimum purchase or try to tack on a fee. Basically, they are trying to pass on their burden of transaction fees from Visa and MC to you, which is just wrong and not allowed. You can send complaints about a merchant here:
http://fso.cpasitesolutions.com/premium/LE/06_le_ic/fg/fg-merchants.html#F

Visa Terms of Service (PDF):
http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/card_acceptance_guide.pdf

About Will Chatham

Will Chatham is a Cyber Security Analyst, Ethical Hacker, and Penetration Tester at a data center in Asheville, NC. Since Netscape 2.0, he has worked in a wide array of environments including non-profit, corporate, small business, and government. His varied background, from developer to search engine optimizer to security professional, has helped him build a wide range of skills that help those with whom he works and teaches.
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