Vancouver businesses are failing to protect my private purchasing information, and they’re probably doing the same with yours too.
How often have you eaten at a restaurant in town, paid by credit card and noticed on the receipt you’re about to leave on the table that your entire credit card number is displayed? If you haven’t next time you should look, because now whoever picks up that receipt will have your private payment information and your signature at their disposal. Establishments should be masking your credit card number so it shows up with only four legible numbers ie. xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-1234.
The other day at Yaletown Brewing I paid with a credit card and I noticed they didn’t mask my number. When this happens, I sign the receipt and always hand it directly to my server. Unfortunately in this case, he was too busy to pick up our bill from the table and when I asked if he could please take it from me he replied rudely that I need to leave it on the table. I replied, I need you to take this.
In the US various states have laws in place regarding card masking, and the issue is a hot one.
…some 50 of the nation’s top retailersâ€”including Rite Aid, Harry & David, Ikea, KB Toys, Disney, Regal Cinemas and AMC Theatersâ€”were accused of printing full credit numbers and expiration dates on printed customer receipts, violating a provision of the FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) that makes it illegal for a retailer to print more than the last five digits of a credit or debit card number or the card’s expiration date on a receipt. This is known as masking or truncation. The rule took effect in phases, but the latest phase went into effect in December 2006. [PC Magazine, Dec 2006]
Apparently in Canada, 2007 was also supposed to be our year of heightened credit card security, according to our Federal Privacy Commissioner:
…representatives of the retail industry have told her that all equipment used to electronically process credit-card payments will mask the cardholders’ personal information in 2007. [CBC, Dec 2006]
According to the BC Personal Information Protection Act: “The technology capable of masking or truncating numbers on receipts does exist, but many businesses have not yet converted to it. Industry advises us that masking the information of the cardholder on all equipment used to electronically process credit card payments should be in place in 2007.” [PDF]
I’ve noticed this all over town, and I think my main concern is with restaurants more than retailers (right now at least) since patrons are expected to leave their receipts and payment slips out in the open. This happened again yesterday at White Spot for Sunday brunch and I run into this issue at least once a week when I am using my credit card. Although I’m not one who scares easily, when it comes to my hard-earned money I’m going to try and protect what I have.
The next time you’re out dining on the town, remember to check for your credit card number on the receipt. If it is not masked, make sure you hand it off directly to staff. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner also has some tips for savvy consumers, I personally like the one about shredding. Hopefully by the end of 2007, retailers and restaurants in our international city will be up to snuff when it comes to personal privacy security standards.