Everybody in Australia Will Be Just a Number

Aug 08Everybody in Australia Will Be Just a Number

PINs Replace Credit Card Signatures in Effort to Crack Down on Fraud Down Under

From August 1, 2014 on, PINs will be the primary form of authorization for cardholders as banks and card companies attempt to slash fraud which has cost Australia some $262 million between 2010 and 2012.

One million not ready

In a piece on smh.com.au (link to article), Kim Arlington quotes Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon, consumer spokesperson for the payment industry’s PINwise campaign, saying, “There are 1 million consumers who are far from ready for this move. [Either they] don’t have PINs or are not yet using their PINs.”

Across Australia, 800,000 merchant payment terminals will upload a software update that makes signatures obsolete.

What happens to people who can’t remember PINs?

Banks will issue signature-preferred cards for people who, for mental or physical reasons, struggle to remember a PIN or use a terminal keypad. The cards have a different built-in verification code which lets customers sign rather than provide a PIN.

Talk about bad advice

Ian Yates, chief executive for the Council on the Ageing Australia, said the Council had reports of bank staff advising elderly people with memory problems to write down their PIN and carry it with them. ‘‘I’m sure that’s not the official bank position … but that’s what some people will do,’’ Yates said. ‘‘The security implications are worrying.’’

And there’s the visually impaired

Greg Madson, president of Blind Citizens Australia, said older members of his organization had never navigated a terminal keypad. “We will be advocating for some sort of uniformity across the design of these [terminals] so that people who are vision impaired … [do] not have to struggle around the keyboard.”

On behalf of Australian retailers

“Retailers just do not look at these signatures,” noted Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, who knew of one man who regularly signed for credit card purchases as “Mickey Mouse.” Hmmm. Did the guy have big ears, white gloves and a squeaky voice?

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