The Payments Council is launching a new campaign to promote chip and signature credit and debit cards. At Which? we welcome the campaign, but why are eligible consumers struggling to get chip and signature cards?
At the end of 2011, we conducted an investigation into chip and signature cards offered by the big banks. We found that many call handlers failed to offer chip and signature cards as an option for those who couldn’t physically key in or remember a Pin.
In most ways, chip and signature cards are identical to chip and Pin cards. However, they are designed for people who cannot use chip and Pin due to memory problems, visual impairment or lack of mobility.
Why bother with chip and signature?
Once a chip and signature card is inserted into a card terminal, the customer is prompted to provide their signature, rather than enter a Pin, to authorise the payment. All banks and building societies are required to offer these cards and all retailers are obliged to accept them.
In our research, we used an undercover fieldworker posing as a customer who had recently suffered a mild stroke and was unable to key digits into a Pin terminal. Our fieldworker then asked the banks if they would offer an alternative to a chip and Pin debit card.
Very few of the banks handled our calls in the way we would have expected. Many gave incorrect information about the right to be issued with a chip and signature card, while others had poorly trained staff who were unable to answer our questions.
Is it worth the risk?
With an ageing population and over 10 million disabled people in the UK, it’s a stark reality that many people cannot use chip and Pin cards easily. There’s a feeling that banks are sometimes unwilling to offer chip and signature cards as it’s easier for them to limit their liability against fraud with chip and Pin cards.
Do you think the continued use of chip and signature cards poses a security threat and encourages potential fraudsters? Or do you think the potential security risks should be shouldered by the banks?