Clinics Must Truncate Credit Cards

While some veterinarians know that the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACT) was passed in December 2003, they may not realize that it governs the way their practices print electronically generated credit and debit card receipts for clients. FACT is an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act that was passed in the 1970s. At least 37 states have passed bills regarding truncation, but all states must be in compliance by 2006, depending on when an electronic terminal was purchased, according to Clarke Brinckerhoff, attorney for the Division of Financial Practices at the Federal Trade Commission. If an electronic machine was purchased before Jan. 1, 2005, veterinarians have three years to comply with the legislation. The law does not apply to manually generated receipts.

Credit card truncation, a portion of the federal law that falls under the “Identify Theft” section, requires merchants to print client receipts with a shortened version – no more than the last five digits – of the card number. It also prohibits a merchant from printing the expiration date on the receipt. H.R. 2622 requires merchants to follow several other guidelines about consumer reporting, resolution of consumer disputes and consumer access to credit information.

Many credit card machines shipped over the last few years came equipped with truncation software, and some machines can have the software added for about $50. Older machines with limited memory capability will have to be replaced, said banking officials. Terminal prices range from $600 to $1,200.

“Never assume that you have to get a new terminal,” said Michelle Harvey, relationship manager for Wells Fargo. “Always ask your processor.” 

Some VMAs have warned members that there are several scams circulating about replacement of equipment, which may not be required. Credit card machines purchased during or after 2003 should have truncation software.

NEWStat Legislation & regulation