Signatures are Going Bye-Bye and Chargebacks are Changing

By Art Lieberman

The word has gone out. Soon Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express will no longer require merchants to obtain signatures for credit and debit card transactions.

The reason for signatures at the point-of sale, were originally required to validate a match to the customers signature on the receipt. Now with the introduction of the EMV technology and the chip cards, signatures are no longer necessary, at least at point-of-sale. This new regulation went into effect for STAR debit cards this past April 1st.

Little by little, the requirements for signatures will be totally disappearing within the foreseeable future. This was expected because of the nature of the CHIP cards requiring only a PIN number. Transactions may still require signatures when chip cards are not recognized or the terminal is not totally re-programmed for PIN transactions, but not for much longer.

Here are some of the benefits that abolishing signature-based transactions have in favor of PIN transactions.
• This will shorten lines in checkout where signatures were once required.
• No signature comparison will be necessary (not that that ever happened).
• No signature need be supplied to prove disclosure of refunds.
• No Chargebacks can be exercised due to lack of signature.

These exclusions do not include “Card Not Present’ transactions. These transactions over the Web or by phone have never been intended to overcome the CHIP card problems, which have allowed counterfeiters and criminals to steal data from consumers. This theft reached a peak in 2015, when it was estimated that credit card and identity theft reached a peak of near $800 billion. For several years the Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) chip cards were used in Europe and gradually credit card theft declined.

Speaking about Chargebacks, there is a new “Visa Resolution Guide”, which is an initiative by Visa to reduce the number of chargebacks and to improve the efficiency of the chargeback resolution process. The plan will eliminate invalid chargebacks by implementing a new validation process and set of rules called the Visa Claims Resolution or VCR (no relation to video cassette recorders for you older folks like me).

In simple terms for campground owners, anytime a camper files a chargeback in the new Visa Online System, the new dispute system will perform a series of automated checks on the dispute such as:
• If the dispute is a secure authorized transaction
• If the cardholder disputed the transaction after the allotted timeframe which was 45 days is being reduced to 30 days
• If the transaction has already been settled or refunded
• If the dispute is a new one or if it has already been reported previously

If any of these items is detected, the dispute will be blocked and it will not be validated as a chargeback.

Much of the process that follows has not changed. There will be a request for retrieval of information from the campground owner, pre-arbitration, then arbitration if necessary and a judgement on final liability whether on the campground owner or on the complainer. But it should be noted AGAIN, that currently having a signed or a PIN transaction as evidence will usually move the ball into your court. In Chargebacks, winning is everything and evidence is essential.

Art Lieberman is President of MCPS for Campgrounds and has been in the industry for over 18 years and has been conducting free webinars online and seminars on credit cards in many State and Regional Association Conventions. He can be contacted at 877-858-9010 or at