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Survey: Many Korean Stores Don’t Check Credit Card Signatures

Survey: Many Korean Stores Don’t Check Credit Card Signatures

Posted September. 30, 2005 08:12,   


The usage of credit cards works under an agreement with the card owner, the credit card company, and the store where the card can be used. What holds the contract together is the card owner’s signature.

According to the Credit Finance Association, credit cards are used approximately 220 million times per month in Korea. There are about 65 million card owners in Korea (as of June 2005), so on average, one person uses their card 3.4 times a month.

However, Koreans are still far behind in terms of signature practices. The signing and examination of the signature that should be done during the transaction is not often done, according to a survey conducted by newspaper, with the assistance of a credit card company.

Surveyors visited 100 stores and found that only 20 percent of them checked whether the signature on the back of the card and the signature on the receipt were the same. A total of 27 of the stores surveyed did not check at all.

Apart from this survey, reporters from this newspaper used credit cards in thirty stores. No stores examined the signatures. There was no problem at all when a different name was signed.

The credit card owners were equally indifferent. Only 28 percent of credit card owners responded that they sometimes or always used a different signature.

No Signature, No Compensation-

One jeweler sold 900,000 won worth of goods to a customer. The credit card the customer used was a missing card. The owner of the jeweler stated that he checked the signatures and demanded to receive the whole amount.

Investigations by the Financial Supervisory Service showed that the signature on the receipt and the signature of the owner of the lost card were completely different. The credit card company paid only half of the money.

Financial supervisory regulations on credit businesses stipulate that if a credit card transaction exceeds 500,000 won, the store must check the ID of the credit card owner. The jeweler suffered a loss because he did not check the signatures and the ID.

When a credit card is used, three receipts are signed. They are kept by card owner, the credit card company, and the store. The receipt acts as an account book. According to business law, the credit card company must keep these receipts for five years.

Lee Bo-Woo, head researcher at the Credit Finance Association, stated, “Korean people are not used to signing and checking signatures because very few people suffer losses due to good consumer protection services. However, such disorderly practices will hinder our way of moving into a credit society.”

Since people do not check signatures, credit card companies first ask if the card is signed when someone reports that their card is lost. They expect it is not signed.

Kim Jeong-gu, senior inspector of the dispute settlement office at the Financial Supervisory Service, advised, “Everyone should sign and keep a copy their card when they receive a new one so that there will be no problems if the card is lost in the future.”

Sun-Woo Kim sublime@donga.com