A pay-at-the-table approach may help stem fraud that can occur when a waiter disappears with your card.
Americans may now be getting more secure credit cards, but there’s still some catching up to do when it comes to fighting credit card fraud. For instance, in England, when you pay for your meal at a restaurant your card never leaves your sight.
As opposed to in the U.S. where a server typically takes your card and brings it back with a receipt. It’s a practice that leaves your information vulnerable and one that is starting to change.
We’re used to it — handing over our card, watching it disappear behind a wall and not worrying for a minute about its security. But, we should. Though the U.S. only accounts for a quarter of the world’s credit card use, it’s the home to almost half of the world’s credit card fraud. One way fraud happens is when your card leaves your sight.
“So this is a magnetic card reader,” says Ken Givens, credit card payments expert, gesturing to the small device in his hands. “Any waiter or bartender can buy this on eBay for $40. They swipe the card and steal the information and then sell it on the black market for $15-$25 per card number.”
Which is why in London, the waiter comes to your table and completes the whole transaction in front of you. The tools for tableside payments aren’t that expensive and besides being safer they can also be more convenient. Some major chains such as Chili’s have been rolling out tableside payments over the last year.
“This is the future of everything. Technology, making things more convenient and definitely with the security issue, I think it was something we had to look at,” says Justin Glotfelty, a general manager at Chili’s.
“I’ve had identity theft several times on my credit card and I love this security feature,” says Lisa McClellan, a customer at Chili’s.
And as technology gets more sophisticated every day, with credit card readers that can even plug into a mobile phone, more restaurants may decide to give the control of the card back to the customers. There will soon be no reason to give your card away and pray it’s being handled with care.