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Archive for Sunday, April 1, 1990

CREDIT CARD ID BAN NO PROBLEM, SAY RETAILERS

April 1, 1990

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Local retailers say state legislation aimed at banning credit cards as a means of identification when accepting a personal check would have little effect on business or check-cashing policies if the measure becomes law.

The bill, approved 40-0 by the Kansas Senate last week, would prohibit retail clerks from writing customers' credit card numbers as a means of identification when accepting a personal check.

Leslie Johnson, and owner of The Loft, 742 Mass., said her business would not be affected if measure becomes law.

"I think the public concept is that retailers use that information, but we don't," she said.

"The perception is that if someone writes a bad check and we have their credit card number, than we could charge the amount to their credit card, but it's against the law for us to do anything like that," Johnson said.

Johnson says she and many retailers often ask to see a credit card as a means of identification in order to protect customers.

"ALL WE'RE doing is asking for proof that the person is who she says she is."

Arnold Fienberg, general manager of the Credit Bureau of Lawrence Inc. said only a few merchants that are clients of the credit bureau write credit card numbers on checks.

However, he said credit card information is not used by the credit bureau to track down writers of bad checks.

"The bill won't have any affect on our clients," he said. "A credit card is not a valid form of indentification that can be used to prosecute someone criminally."

The bill was requested by Atty. Gen. Robert Stephan as a consumer protection measure.

"The use of the credit card numbers doesn't serve any useful purpose," Stephan said Friday. "When that information is put on a check and circulated, the chances of someone using the numbers increase as more people have access to that information.

"WE RECEIVED some inquiries from some consumers who were concerned that they had to give out their credit card numbers when they cashed checks."

If the bill becomes law, retailers still could ask check-paying customers to produce a secondary form of identification, such as a credit card, but no information could be written.

Stephan said he did not know if the bill is likely to become law, but noted that the Kansas Department of Commerce supported the measure.

Stephan said credit card numbers could not legally be used to trace the writer of a bad check.

"There are other forms of identification which are used for determining fraud," he said.

Bobby Jones, manager of Wal-Mart Discount Cities, 2727 Iowa, said the measure wouldn't have any impact on his store.

"OUR PRIMARY form of identification that we ask for with a check is a driver's license. We ask for a second form of identification when a person has an out-of-state check," Jones said.

Jones said Wal-Mart stopped writing customers' credit card numbers on checks a few years ago.

"We stopped doing it because of the integrity of the situation," he said. "I don't like giving my credit card number to anyone, and I don't think our customers like to give theirs out, either."

Steve Wyss, store manager of JC Penney, 1801 W. 23rd, said customers currently do not have to give clerks their credit card numbers.

"Right now if someone objects to us putting down their credit card number on a check, we don't use it," Wyss said.

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