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August 03, 2005

Master Card requiring fingerprints for credit card transactions?

I recently ordered some ATV tires through RPM Motorsports and had them put them on my ATV. I showed up to pay for everything in the pouring down rain. Four hundred eight dollars and fifty six cents. OK. Fine. Swipe the credit card. Showed my photo ID. Signed the transaction. Good enough, right? Wrong. They wanted my fingerprints on the recepit. I'm like "Well, that's not going to happen." They're like - "Then you can't have your ATV back". I'm like "I'm not a criminal. I'm not giving you my fingerprints. You can fark off."

I know MasterCard stipulates certain conditions to their "merchants" when they assign a "merchant id" to a business. Like, for instance, the business can't have a "minimum charge amount" for a credit card purchase. And, they can't charge you more for using a credit card, than if you paid by cash or check. If a business does this, you can report them to MasterCard, and they'll revoke their merchant id. At least, in theory, any way.

So, I called MasterCard, but I got transferred around a lot and no one really was able to answer my question, as to whether this was actually against MasterCard's policy or not. However, when I searched for it on the web, everybody and their brother seemed to think requiring a fingerprint to verify a credit card transaction is the greatest idea since sliced bread. The only debate seems to be centered around which is the fastest, cheapest way to collect, finerprints, store them, and turn them over to the police.

Turns out that Jefferson County, Colorado thinks it's a great idea. Like - has the whole world gone mad? Do people not see the obvious potential for abuse?

On their web page explaing how to prevent fraudulent charges, Mastercard does not recommend collecting fingerprints. This Merchange Abuse page appears to imply that the following are violations of their merchant agreements:

• In order to make a MasterCard purchase, the merchant/retailer required a minimum or maximum amount.
• The merchant/retailer is adding a charge for using your MasterCard card.
• The merchant/retailer required identification.
• A merchant/retailer displaying the MasterCard decal in their window refused to accept my MasterCard card.

I found MasterCard's Merchant Rules online in a PDF format.

9.11.2 Cardholder Identification

A merchant must not refuse to complete a MasterCard card transaction solely because a cardholder who has complied with the conditions for presentment of a card at the POI refuses to provide additional identification information, except as specifically permitted or required by the Standards. A merchant may require additional identification from the cardholder if the information is required to complete the transaction, such as for shipping purposes.

So, I sent them the following email:


I went into RPM Motorsports today to pay for my Honda ATV tires. Total amount was $408.56. They swiped my MasterCard, I signed the recepit, then provided my photo id (valid Colorado Drivers license). They verified the signature. Then, I figured we were good to go, but they insisted I had to give them my fingerprint. It was their company policy to require a fingerprint for a credit card transaction over $50, and the police had avised them to do this. I told them it wasn't going to happen, and paid cash instead. I'm never going back to RPM Motorsports no matter what happens, but isn't that a violation of their "Merchant Agreement" with MasterCard?

RPM Motorsports
1251 Wadsworth Blvd.
Lakewood CO 80214

Peenie Wallie

Wed 8/3/2005 7:09 PM
Thank you for visiting the MasterCard web-site.

Thank you for writing to MasterCard International's Customer Service Center. We are reviewing your inquiry and if a response is needed you'll receive one soon.

Best regards,

MasterCard International
Customer Service Center

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Posted by Peenie Wallie on August 03, 2005 at 06:14 PM


If my credit card number, PIN, password, or even social security number are stolen, they can be changed.

What happens when our fingerprints are in various data bases? Eventually, those data bases will be hacked, and the fingerprint data stolen. What happens when "fingerprint fraud" becomes as common as credit card number and SSN fraud is today?

Posted by: Robert on August 05, 2005 at 08:22 PM

What happens when "fingerprint fraud" becomes as common as credit card number and SSN fraud is today?

D'oh! The obvious solution will be to demand DNA samples when using a credit card.

And after fingerprint fraud and DNA fraud make biometrics unreliable, the government will mandate computer I.D. chips in our skulls. Because at least those chips can be replaced after they've been hacked.

Posted by: Robert on August 09, 2005 at 08:46 AM

If you haven't seen it yet, watch Gattaca (1997).

It's one of the greatest greatest science fiction movies of all time, even though it has no gun fights, explosions, or killer robots from the future.

Posted by: Robert on August 09, 2005 at 08:48 AM

You have the right to be upset with RTV, i am a computer security officer and i am actually working on generating key for smart cards/credit cards transactions n order to make the process as safe as possible.
I was enthusiastic about the idea of using finger prints as type of self identification for smart cards to enable the holder (and only the holder) to use his/her own smart card, and i am doing my phd in this field.
I am glad that you brought this up, it's realy good to hear from people who experienced the inconvinience of giving thier finger prints about it, what do you reckon is the best, and most convinient modern way to protect customers in credit cards transactions?

I will appreciate any hints in this regard

Posted by: Odi on July 05, 2006 at 12:33 AM

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