Merchants are required under Visa and MasterCard regulations to ensure to their best abilities that credit and debit cards used for payment at their stores are valid and used by their legitimate cardholders. Under certain circumstances and if there is sufficient evidence to believe that a payment card is being used fraudulently or if its security features look as if they have been altered, merchants are required to recover the card from a customer at the point of sale, but only if it is safe to do so. Any of the following examples would provide a sufficient reason for recovering a payment card:
- The card’s security features are missing or altered. If the 3- or 4-digit card security code (CVV2, CVC 2 or CID) is missing or has been tampered with, or if the hologram does not appear right, or if the “Good Through” date is altered, that should raise your suspicion.
- The card number on the sales receipt does not match the account number on the card. If the account number that your terminal has read from the magnetic stripe and printed on the sales receipt does not match the one on the front of the card, this should immediately raise a red flag.
- The merchant receives a pick-up response. If, during a Code 10 call with the card issuer, you have been instructed to pick up the card, you should follow the instructions.
Once you have accumulated enough information to justify a decision to recover a card, or after you have been instructed to do so during a Code 10 call, you should follow these procedures:
- Only attempt a card recovery if you can do so safely. You should never take unnecessary risks. If the customer acts in a threatening way, you should complete the transaction and alert your payment processor after the customer leaves your store.
- Once you have established that it is safe to recover a card, tell your customer that you have been instructed to keep the card, and that he or she may call the card issuer for additional information.
- Remain calm and courteous throughout the recovery procedure. If the cardholder behaves in a threatening manner, return the card immediately and complete the transaction.
- Once you have recovered the card, contact your processor for further instructions.
- Cut the recovered card in half lengthwise, but be careful not to damage the hologram, the embossed account number, or the magnetic stripe.
- Send the recovered card’s pieces to your processor.
Card issuers offer cash rewards to merchants for recovering altered and counterfeit cards or for information that can lead to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in a counterfeit operation. Contact your processor for additional details.
For cards that are found at your store or have been inadvertently left by customers and have remained unclaimed, you should follow the above procedures for contacting your processor and sending in the card.
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