Credit-Card Co. Visa to Mask Card Numbers

Friday, 7 March 2003, 1:37 PM EST

Credit-card association Visa USA said on Thursday it will require merchants that take Visa payments to display only the last four digits of a card number on receipts in an effort to thwart a surge in financial identity theft.

"Identity thieves thrive on discarded receipts and documents containing consumers' information such as payment account numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers, and more. Visa's new policy will protect consumers by limiting the information these thieves can access," Visa USA Chief Executive Officer Carl Pascarella said at a press conference.

The federal government identifies financial identity theft as one of the fastest-growing types of white-collar crime and one of the most common types of fraud.

Visa wants all merchants taking Visa card payments to remove the first 12 digits of the card number and its expiration date from receipts by July 2006. New terminals that process payment by Visa cards will be outfitted with the information-masking printout set-up beginning in July, the company said.

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