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Sign of the times as merchants miss the credit card message

CONSUMERS are picking up the bill for credit card fraud while retailers turn a blind eye to a costly problem.

A report compiled for the Seven Network’s Today Tonight has revealed that many retailers don’t carefully check signatures for credit card purchases.

Rosina O’Neill originally contacted the Seven Network with concerns about the attitude to credit card fraud in the retail sector.

“The point I want to get across is, in the end, the consumer pays because bank fees go up and insurance goes up,” Ms O’Neill said.

“It’s nice that the bank will cover it (credit card fraud) but it’s passed on to us.

“I personally think it’s lack of training on the merchants’ behalf.”

While Ms O’Neill is convinced training is a solution to this costly problem, there appears to be more that needs to be done.

WA Retailers Association chief executive officer Martin Dempsey claims the banks play an important role in the equation.

And a shift in the relationship between retailers and consumers is driving the demand for convenience over service.

“With so many people ringing in and giving their credit card number and expiry date, the pressure in on retailers to check less,” Mr Dempsey said.

“And this is bank mandated – you get a lot more people ordering things like concert tickets over the phone.

“The signature as a part of the ceremony of a contract has largely been by-passed.”

However, retailers are more vigilant when it comes to checking credit cards with the list of stolen cards at the transaction point because it’s been drummed into them.

“But as long as it’s not blatantly stolen they’ll turn a blind eye to the signature,” Mr Dempsey said.

“When you go into a place like a homewares store where most of the price tickets are above $50, it’s almost all credit card purchases.

“I think we need better training and a better understanding of the nature of retail.”

The only solution Mr Dempsey offers is merchants asking customers to show their driver’s licence when making credit card purchases.

Major Fraud Investigation acting detective inspector Gary Budge said simply checking the credit card was not enough to detect the more sophisticated credit card scams.

“A photo would be a good step but, instead of the magnetic strip, maybe a computer chip might be better,” he said. “But then the banks talk about the cost of producing computer chips.”

Retail Traders Association manager Brian Reynolds is less concerned about retailers pointing out that there are stringent guidelines and procedures in place for the use of credit cards.

“There are quite clear criteria laid down by the providers of the credit card and many retailers have their own internal procedures, “ Mr Reynolds said.

“Clearly there are times where the retailers and the staff are under great pressure and, like everything else, some of those procedures can drop off. That’s why we continue to promote to our members the importance of having a system in place.”

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