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Signatures Not Required

It can be confusing. At one store, you're asked to sign your credit card receipt, and at the next business, you don't have to.

What does this mean for your practice … are signatures required for EMV transactions, or not? The answer is, no!

This is good news, especially during the pandemic. People are more reluctant to give you their credit card or use a provided pen to sign a receipt and hand it back over. They prefer as little contact as possible right now.

If you’re still requiring a signature on EMV credit card receipts, you’re not alone. Many businesses haven’t made the change. There is nothing wrong with this. But, before you completely shut the door on changing your ways, here are a few things to consider.

Better Security

As you recall, signatures were once required on all credit card sales. Card holders were supposed to sign the back of their credit card so merchants could compare it to the signature on the receipt. This was meant to help prevent credit card fraud.

Then EMV chip cards were developed, which are far superior to credit cards with the magnetic strip. A chip card transaction provides more security and algorithms behind the scenes. It’s easier to identify and originate transactions, which helps authenticate them as live transactions.

It’s safe to assume with a chip card transaction that the customer/patient was there and presented the card. Because of that, the signature is actually not necessary.

Official Word from the Major Card Brands

Several years ago, some card brands stopped requiring signatures for transactions under a certain amount. (Think fast food restaurants.) With chip cards, the major credit card brands took the next step and as of April 2018, it was official - signatures were no longer required by Mastercard®, Visa®, American Express® and Discover®.

But, that doesn’t mean that all businesses adopted this change.

Change Takes Time

Some businesses still ask for signatures. They may not know about the change in policies by the major card companies or, they may simply be comfortable with their existing process. Restaurants are one example. Restaurant owners may be worried that by not requiring a signature and having that tip line, they can’t accept tips (which isn’t true). They can still print a tip line without a signature line, or enter the tip amount into the credit card machine.

If a Chip Can’t Be Read

Occasionally, a patient’s chip card may be unreadable. In that case, you may be tempted to use the magnetic strip or key in the card number. This is called a fallback transaction. But because of the increased security of chip cards, it’s a better idea to ask the patient if they have another chip card available for payment.

Why? If you complete a fallback transaction and the transaction ends up being fraudulent, you will not be protected – even if you got a signature. So, it’s always better to rely on chip card technology and know you’re protected.

A Note About EHR System Signatures

Most DCs use an EHR system. These generally require a signature for acceptance of the services. Remember, this required signature is completely different than what we’re talking about with credit card transactions.

Within some EHR systems, the payment is posted with the invoice and the signature line is already on the invoice. That signature line is not meant for the credit card sale. It’s still for acceptance of the services.

Still Undecided?

It’s okay if you’re still unsure about removing the signature step from your credit card payment process. But, here are just a few more things to think about:

  1. It’s easy – Changing your receipts to remove the signature line takes no time at all. Depending on the type of equipment you have, you may be able to do it yourself, or we can do it for you.
  2. Time savings – This may be more relevant in larger businesses, but not requiring a signature does save time for your office staff and your patients.
  3. More convenient – In many cases, signing a receipt can be a hassle. Maybe your patient is in pain. Or, more likely, they just don’t want to juggle their personal items to fumble with a pen and scrawl a signature on a flimsy receipt. (This is especially true in businesses without a front desk. We’ve all been handed a clipboard with our receipt clipped to the top.)
  4. Embrace it now or later - It may be easier to make the change now, rather than at a later time. After all, your patients will be used to not signing at other businesses. And, technology is only going to get better. It’s sometimes better to go with the flow and embrace these advancements.
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