Back in the day, credit card transactions often utilized manual credit card imprint machines. However online shopping and other technological advances along with identity-theft concerns have made manual credit card scanners nearly obsolete. Nonetheless, manual credit card scanners still hold advantages for merchants, especially as a backup means of processing credit card transactions.
How Manual Imprinting Machines Work
Manual imprinting machines slide over a credit card covered with carbonless forms containing information about the merchant and with designated spaces for the imprint of the credit card number, expiration date and name of the credit card holder. The imprint is created by the impression of the raised letters and numerals on the face of the credit card onto the carbonless forms. Typically, the merchant returns one copy of the carbonless form to the customer, retaining other copies for processing with the credit card company.
Credit Card Swipe or Scan Transactions
Point-of-sale machines at checkout counters allow the customer or merchant to swipe the magnetic strip located near the top of the rear of credit cards through an electronic processor that reads the pertinent information and processes the transaction. The customer may receive a paper receipt to sign and return to the merchant, along with a paper receipt to keep for her records. Some point-of-sale machines do not require customer signatures, while others require the customer to submit a signature on an electronic device rather than on a paper receipt.
Reasons to Use Manual Credit Card Imprint Machines
Although many merchants have largely abandoned manual credit card imprinters, they still hold some advantages. For instance, manual credit card imprint machines do not require electricity or connection by modem or Internet to the credit card processor. This means that merchants can process credit card transactions without the need for electricity or Internet service. In addition, the physical imprint of the credit card provides merchants a measure of protection against charge-backs by customers who claim that they did not authorize a particular purchase.
Identity Theft Issues
A major drawback to manual credit card imprint machines is that they reproduce a customer's entire credit card number and expiration date. Careless handling of paper receipts leaves customers vulnerable to credit card fraud and identity theft. In 2006, the Federal Trade Commission imposed a law that requires merchants to truncate the numbers of credit cards and mask the expiration dates on paper and electronic receipts. In addition, many merchants require customers to supply the security code located on the back of the credit card along with the credit card number and expiration date when processing credit card transactions by telephone or over the Internet.
- Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center: Slip Showing? Federal Law Requires All Businesses to Truncate Credit Card Information on Receipts; May 2007
- "The New York Times", Flatten the Raised Numbers on Credit Cards?; David Pogue; May 2009
- Total Merchant Services: Credit Card Terminal Machine Equipment Printers
- Federal Trade Commission. "Data Book 2019." Page 4. Accessed March 26, 2020.
- U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism. "U.S. Citizen International Outbound Travel Up Six Percent in 2018." Accessed March 26, 2020.
Chris Blank is an independent writer and research consultant with more than 20 years' experience. Blank specializes in social policy analysis, current events, popular culture and travel. His work has appeared both online and in print publications. He holds a Master of Arts in sociology and a Juris Doctor.