Virtually everyone using credit or debit cards to make purchases, especially at gas pumps, has been asked to provide a zip code prior to the purchase being approved. Since gas purchases made at the pump don’t require the purchaser to enter a store and deal with a cashier, many people enjoy the speed and convenience of paying at the pump. However, using a credit card at the pump creates security issues.
Stolen Credit Cards are Frequently Used Purchasing Fuel
One easy way to determine whether or not a stolen credit card has been reported is to use it. However, to reduce risks, thieves don’t want to confront a cashier when doing so. That means gas stations provide a great option to determine whether the card has been canceled. If the card thief attempts to use the card and it’s declined, he or she can simply drive away. Leaving can be harder when faced with a cashier or, worse yet, security personnel.
Credit card companies understand the practice all too well. That’s why it’s become common for card users to be asked to input their zip code when purchasing fuel. The practice provides a level of security not only for the merchant and credit card company but the card’s owner as well. That’s the basic answer to why does credit card machines ask for my zip code?
Are There Alternatives If Customers Won’t Provide Their Zip Codes?
As with virtually every strategy to enhance security, there are individuals who decline to provide a zip code to proceed with an automated point of purchase machine. While there is little of value being provided simply by entering a zip code, there are, indeed, individuals who continue to believe the data isn’t really necessary or that it will be used somehow as a marketing tool. That practice is not allowed by most credit card companies, but the myth remains. Clients declining to provide the information at the pump or other remote points of purchase have the option of going into the store and using the card there or simply paying in cash.
With credit card fraud being rampant, it’s likely the practice of requiring a zip code will increase rather than decrease in the future. If you’re still wondering why credit card machines ask for your zip code, the answer is simple: to protect the merchant, the credit card company and, most importantly, you.