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Federal Law Prohibits Showing Credit Card Numbers on Receipts

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Federal Law Prohibits Showing Credit Card Numbers on Receipts

By BobK
Published: March 20, 2009

Last night I went out to eat at a popular DC area restaurant with some friends. Feeling especially generous, I picked up the tab, and paid with my credit card.

On the receipt marked 'Merchant Copy' ... you know, the one you sign and leave on the table for any theif to pick up and steal your identity ... there was my credit card number for the world to see.

Normally, most businesses truncate the credit number on electronically printed receipts so it appears something like this:

ACCT: ***********12345
EXP: ****

So, last night, I took the pen accompanying my receipt, and scribbled out my credit number so hard that it tore the paper.

My friends were aghast. One proclaimed, 'You can’t do that!' Another said, 'Yeah, that’s illegal!' And yet another, said, 'No, it’s illegal for them to print the credit card number on the receipt.'

What’s this? Disagreement among friends? I had to get to the bottom of it.

According to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), federal law requires all businesses to truncate credit card information on electronically printed receipts. The law does not apply to imprinted or handwritten receipts. However, merchants are reminded of their responsibilities to protect customer privacy.

The consequences for non-compliance with this law are enforcement actions from the Federal Trade Commission, which includes civil penalties (fines) or 'injunctive relief' ... which doesn’t sound like a good kind of relief … it basically means that you must refrain from doing something or you will fined or imprisoned.

So there you go. You guys fight over who's going to buy me dinner next time.

For more information on this law and other privacy laws, visit the following web sites:

About the Author:



Thank you very much for this informatin. It was verhelpful with my situation last night. 1/27/2012 I ordered pizza and Gyros from Athena’s (330-929-2940 4037 state rd Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223. Atenaspizzaris.com) and when they delivered our food my son brought me the receipt to sign for my credit card that had the last 4 numbers of my account number and a hand written receipt that had my order and my credit card number, expiration date, and the 3 digit pin number that appears on the back of the card. I kept the receipt that has all my information on it and gave back the printed receipt that only had last four of my card number. I work for a bank and I knew this was illegal with the privacy act laws. I called Athena’s and asked to speak to the manager and told him about my concern and I knew there is a carbon copy with my information on it as well. His response to me was that there wasn’t a carbon copy and that’s how they handle business for 7 years and never had a problem and they accept check or cash as well. He also said that he locks this information in his safe for tax purposes. I responded that it was the law to protect my information and I worked for a bank. I told him that I was going to look further into this and let him know exactly what the law says. He told me to ask for Don and he was the owner. I received a call 15 mins later from Don, the owner of Athena’s, to notify me that he had taken care of my personal information and destroyed it. I said to him how because I have the original hand written receipt. He responded he had destroyed the other receipt. Then I said I knew there was a carbon copy and he said yes but I destroyed it and you don’t have to worry now and when his driver got back into his car he called him to let him know that the receipt was with me. I told him that my personal information was handled through too may hands and should of never been written down. He argued and over talked me. I had to tell to please let me finish. I told him not only you have my card number written down, the girl who took my order had it and the boy who delivered the pizza had it and if the receipt would of blown away, it would be on the streets for anyone to have. I told him it was his responsibility to protect my information. He kept telling that no matter what he said it wasn’t going to make me happy. He said to me again we accept check or cash. I told him to put himself in the customer’s shoes and would he want his information out there. He kept saying he understands what I’m saying but he is going to handle business like he has in the past 7 years. He still wasn’t getting it. I told him again that I would research this and get back to him with the facts.
@drfiddledd Can you be more specific on what you are referring to?
Is there a law that prohibits marchants from wring down the credit card numbers of customers and keeping them on file?
My husband has a small business and we are trying to watch out for all the regulations re credit card processing.  The fees for a small business, 'card not present' fees are prohibitive.  We are thinking about adding a transaction fee to the buyer to help cover this expense.  I seem to remember some articles in our local paper several years ago that it was illegal to charge more for credit cards.  Is that the case?  The business is located in Kentucky, but we sell all over the eastern United States through catalog and online sales.  Does anyone know for sure about this or can suggest where I can find the regulations on this?
This is a great idea as it prevents frauds. Being involved with the industry for over 5 years now online, the govt also requires that PCI compliant frameworks and online merchant gateways parse credit card informatoin directly to banks data centers securely via SSL so that the merchants will not see the information their clients input into a form when processing a payment online. This is all to protect the cardholder
Nancy, Make sure you read your terms and conditions from your merchant account processor carefully.  There's a stipulation in there that you cannot charge a customer for using a credit card in your store (you cannot charge a percentage of the sale OR a fixed fee).  You can, however, offer a 'cash discount' on your items.  For instance, if you sell an item for $9.99, you can offer it for $8.99 if the customer pays cash (you will see this on many gas stations now -- a discount if the customer pays in cash vs. uses a credit/debit card).  
I need clarification on what the federal law actually prohibits in regards to the display of credit card numbers. In the article it is stated that it is illegal to show the entire credit card number on the copy that you sign for the merchant. Is this only in the case that it is left on the table unattended, or is it illegal to print the entire number on any copy? I use a local service that prints the last 4 of my card number on my copy of the receipt, but it prints the entire number on their copy of the receipt that they retain in their office indefinately. Is this practice illegal? And if it is illegal, what statute or legislative act makes it illegal? What I have read so far only indicates that it is illegal to print to print the entire number on my copy, but it is OK to print and keep the entire number in their possession. I have read the statutes in my state, but they only refer to the customer copy, not the merchant copy. I would appreciate some clarity on this matter.
Should be remembered that in different banks when you'll pay with card will be a different percentage for the transaction_________________Custom essay writingMessage Edited by NicoleD on 09-30-2009 12:16 PM
This is a great law if I must say myself... I remember about 5 years ago finding a receipt with a full credit card included on the receipt and someone simply tossed it on the ground. I was shocked and immediately disposed of it. Tyler GhellerLos Angeles Lawyer & Attorney Message Edited by NicoleD on 09-30-2009 12:16 PM
I don't think any credible merchant would even consider handing out receipts that show the CC number. It just wouldn't make sense. Omer A.MMORPG and Game Music Site OwnerVG Alliance LLC (New Jersey)Message Edited by NicoleD on 09-30-2009 12:18 PM


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