Retailers Get Sued For Printing Too Many Credit Card Digits On Receipts

As of Dec 4th, 2006, it’s illegal for a retailer to print more than five digits of your credit card on your receipt. Retailers who persisted are getting hit in a recent whirlwind of class-action lawsuits.

“Slips of paper containing people’s financial information should not be floating around,” says J. Mark Moore, a lawyer at Spiro Moss Barness LLP in Los Angeles.

Among the targets are Rite Aid, Wendy’s, FedEx, TJMaxx and IKEA.

Keep an eye on those receipts. Find one with more than 5 credit card digits on it and it could the equivalent of an unclaimed winning lottery ticket, if one were so inclined. — BEN POPKEN

Retailers Whose Slips Show Too Much Attract Lawsuits [WSJ via Consumer World Blog]
(Photo: Mikey aka DaSkinnyBlackMan)

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  1. timmus says:

    it could the equivalent of an unclaimed winning lottery ticket
    (for the class action attorneys, of course)

    I actually saw a receipt in the past month that had my full credit card number on it. I can’t recall where it was from. I’m betting it’s possible for this to happen at mostly the mom & pop stores and restaurants, as it’s possible to go for many years without updating firmware on the cheap Linkpoint credit card terminals. I wouldn’t think of suing them though.

  2. whitespider says:

    Very interesting. I once went to lunch at this little resturant by one of my old temp jobs and the cashier always had to black marker out my card info. I got really uncomfortable about it, but at the time I was 20/21 and felt shy about the laws or what to say, so I just sort of let it slide hoping a coworker would give me wiser older advice, which I ultimately never got. Consumerist is my coworker for life, now. :]

  3. danieldavis says:

    Yet another toy in the playground of a scrooge.

  4. alicetheowl says:

    I couldn’t get the WSJ article to load; can someone tell me whether this applies to the receipt you sign, or just the receipt you receive? I know most places print the full number on the signed receipt, because otherwise, when that piece of paper reaches the credit card companies, they can’t verify it’s the exact same account.

  5. SoNecessary says:

    I was actually at a Quizno’s Restaurant in Daytona Beach, FL in May (’06) and I realized that my full credit card number printed on my receipt. However, I don’t know if this practice is confined to that franchise or if it happens at all Quiznos.

  6. macinjosh says:

    @alicetheowl:

    I skimmed the article but I found these two quotes. (sorry, i dunno how to do the fancy gawker quoting.)

    “As of Dec. 4, retailers are prohibited from printing more than the last five digits of a credit-card or debit-card account number on receipts that are handed to customers”

    and

    “Another concern is whether the law applies to merchant receipts that customers sign and then hand back to a cashier or waiter. Typically, these merchant copies contain the full card-account information. The law applies to “any receipt provided to the cardholder.””

  7. MercuryPDX says:

    I really only pay attention to this when I dine out because that seems to be when the full number comes up most often.

    Some restaurants give a “bill” in addition to the receipt you sign, and if it has anything more than the last 4 digits of the CC I used, it goes into my pocket and the shredder at home. If the full number appears on the receipt I sign, I make it a point to return it to the server, and not just leave it in the “wallet” on the table.

  8. macinjosh says:

    Oh yeah, I was gonna say that I don’t see the point of omitting the number from my copy, since I’m responsible for it and can destroy it. It’s the other copy that I’m worried about floating around. Isn’t there any other info on those slips that ca ben used to identify the transaction, like the date/time or any of the other reference numbers?

  9. myrall says:

    Y’know, I typically scratch out the displayed digits of my credit card before I sign the receipt and hand it back. I’d never encountered a problem doing this until one really snotty waitress rolled her eyes and proceeded to tell me it was “illegal for me to do that.”

    I told her my number would be plain to see for whoever printed out the batch at the end of the night but she STILL brought out another copy of the ticket and had me re-sign it without my scratch marks. Guess she showed me!! Whatever.

  10. macinjosh says:

    @myrall:

    You should have filled out the new one with a lesser tip. :)

  11. Moosehawk says:

    My Wendy’s receipt that I have from last week only has 4 number on it. =(

  12. TechnoDestructo says:

    I just tear out the numbers, rip em into tiny bits, and discard them separately from the rest of the receipt, assuming I’m not going to shred/burn the whole thing. Same with anything with information I’m not comfortable with on it.

  13. lucidpsyche says:

    I actually work at a very small store. We accept credit cards, and, yes, our really old machine prints out the full credit card number and the expiration date. I warn customers about it every time I give them the copy of their credit card receipt.

    We haven’t replaced the old machine because of the expense of buying a new machine. Some of the nicer machines cost over $100, and when your daily average is maybe $300 (before subtracting merchandise cost, employee salaries, etc.)… well, you get the picture.

    I know that we’re very, very careful with our copies of the receipts — I’ve never heard of one getting lost or misplaced.

  14. alicetheowl says:

    @macinjosh:
    Thanks.

  15. gorckat says:

    Come on people- just use cash! No numbers that lead to identity theft then!

  16. consumed says:

    FUD!

    Folks this is why we have CVV codes these days for most Internet based transactions, along with name, address, and phone number verification. Even if a full credit card number was printed on a receipt you found on the sidewalk, you still have to know the CVV code and the full billing address of the cardholder to do anything useful with it.

    This whole situation is overblown and even most modern credit card agreements won’t hold the cardholder responsible/liable for fraudulent charges.

  17. jaewon223 says:

    As if stealing credit card numbers wasn’t so easy already…

    I think there was an article in consumerist about a credit card that had randomly changing cvv codes. That seems interesting.

  18. formergr says:

    Only three years ago I was at the U.S. post office in Chicago, and the receipt had my full credit card number on it. I brought it to the attention of the manager, who (since this was the fab branch on Ashland & Wellington) couldn’t give a rat’s ass and was super rude about it to boot.

    I then emailed the general USPS customer address, and they actually got back to me and said that shouldn’t be happening and they’d see the issue was remedied.

  19. humphrmi says:

    @dougm: That would be nice, if every vendor required it. I’ve had transactions as recently as this year where I wasn’t asked for the CVV. I’m not sure how they put them through, but they still worked.

  20. MrWashy says:

    There are several restaurants here in my town that print my entire number on the “Merchant copy” of the receipt. I either scratch it out or take their copy and leave my own. Since this happens to be a college town I’ve had to explain to several waitpersons exactly why I do this. They jsut don’t seem to get the idea that someone could take the numbers right off the receipt and use them.

  21. MrWashy says:

    @dougm: Actually Verizon Wireless’s online payment system only requires the card numbers: no expiration date, no CCV number. So it would be entirely possible for some to take you 16 digit number alone and pay their own cell phone bill.

  22. Mr. Gunn says:

    dougm: The vast majority of online retailers don’t ask for CVV, just number and exp.

  23. Mr. Gunn says:

    MrWashy: I’ve got several of those recently. I’ve since scratched them out or destroyed them, but I’ll start saving them now!

  24. lilyHaze says:

    This is a good idea to double check, particularly in those mom & pop places. When I look at receipts, they usually do have just the last 4-5 digits.

    Even though I’m generally good about security/privacy info, I sometimes forget too.

    I really should start using those “temporary” numbers that Citi has for my online purchases.

  25. aparsons says:

    I went to a quiznos in Kansas City, and my full credit card number was on the receipt. I blacked out the credit card number, and the cashier told me that she would “have to run my credit card again” because they “use those numbers when finalizing the transaction.” I told her she wasn’t getting my credit card again to run, and told her that it was up to her to figure out her credit card machine. She got all nasty with me, and I gave her the sandwich back and requested a refund. Printing credit card numbers on the receipt is right under “$10 minimum on all credit card transactions” on my list of pet peeves.

    I seriously think I’m just going to start taking merchants to small claims court for printing my information. If enough people sue, hopefully merchants will start to get the point.

    Oh, and that $10 minimum bs… I whip out my AMEX, pay, and then immediately call AMEX. I think AMEX suspends their agreement since it is against the TOS.

  26. scootinger says:

    Hmmmm….my local Quiznos prints the first 12 digits of the CC number on the receipt….

  27. humphrmi says:

    I just went to a family-owned Italian restaraunt tonight, definately a one-shop affair. Had a great breaded veal with lemon sauce, salad, and minestrone soup. Paid with my Visa, and all but the last four numbers were starred out on BOTH receipts. It can be done; the merchant has the data they need to get paid without your number on the receipt. If anyone tells you any different, they are uninformed. And none of that “we’re a small company” crap either. If Nancy’s Pizza in Niles IL can do it, they can.

  28. kefskefs says:

    Anyone know what the law is in Canada? Or where to start my search?

  29. Ben says:

    What fun! My local Subway just gave me a receipt with my entire credit card number and expiration date on it.