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Unsigned Cards in Face-To-Face Transactions


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Once the card is swiped through the payment terminal, the merchant should take it in his or her possession and examine it for signs of alterations. The merchant also has the responsibility at the point of sale to compare the signature on the back panel of the card to the one provided by the customer on the sales receipt. But what is the merchant to do when the card is not signed? Well, all unsigned cards are considered invalid and should not be accepted for payments, even if all other security features are valid and there is no other reason to be suspicious. When you are presented with an unsigned card at the point of sale, you should follow these steps:

  • Request that your customer provides a valid ID. A driver's license or a passport would be acceptable. Where the law allows it, the ID's serial number and expiration date should be written on the sales receipt before the transaction is processed.
  • Request that the customer signs the card. The card must be signed in front of you. Examine the signature and compare it to the one on the ID. If the customer refuses to sign the card, the card remains invalid and you should not accept it. Ask for another payment method, such as cash, check or another payment card.
  • If the provided signature matches the one on the ID, go ahead and complete the transaction. The customer has proved that he or she is the legitimate owner of the card and you should accept it.

If your customer refuses to sign the card and you still accept it, you will most likely have no recourse if the transaction is later disputed and will end up incurring a chargeback.

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