If you live in the US and use a credit card for in-store purchases you are probably used to signing your name or, if you are like me, scribbling on a receipt or electronic signature pad in order to complete the transaction. You have also probably thought to yourself, is this really necessary, is this adding any extra security against someone using my card without my consent? When you stop and think about it the answer is… no, it doesn’t.
While it would be much more secure to do what most other countries have done and assign PINs to credit cards just like our debit cards have, the US card issuers thought chip and signature would provide smoother migration to EMV. With the switch to EMV chip cards, the card issuers have security measures in place that are exponentially better than that of the old magstripe cards. Due to this, all major card brands have announced that they are dropping the signature requirement for credit purchases in North America.
The four major card brands in the US, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover are changing the requirements for credit card signatures effective April 2018. Each card issuer is adding new rules or amending the old ones regarding signatures. Being asked to sign for your credit card purchase won’t stop across the board but starting April 2018 you can expect it to occur a lot less frequently. Card fraud at merchant locations using EMV card terminals has fallen by two-thirds according to Visa so I think it’s safe to say that over the past 2 plus years the chips have done their job.
All this said, there are still a ton of merchants out there who have not yet made the EMV migration and for them, the signatures remain. The most common reason these merchants have not made the switch is cost. While the EMV-capable terminals can be costly, they are a worthwhile investment. Not only will a merchant be able to stop hassling their customers by using a pen that never seems to write on the receipt or trying to sign their name using an electronic signature pad they are protecting themselves against being liable for fraudulent card present transactions. That’s right merchants who are still using magstripe, think of the cost associated in making the EMV migration as insurance because you would never start a business without being insured right?