Paying in cash for goods or services is not always convenient, and today other forms of payment have become routine. However, it is up to the discretion of a business what forms of payment to accept, and companies are free to set their own policies.
When you pay by check, debit or credit card, businesses often need more information about you so they can be assured of receiving payment. However, there are limitations to the information they can collect, as set forth by the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act (O.C.G.A. Section 10-1-393.3).
A business may not:
- Imprint or copy your credit or debit card number as a condition of a purchase by check; or
- Require your personal or business telephone number when you make a purchase by credit or debit card, except as noted below.
A business may:
- Request your driver’s license number for check or credit card purchases;
- Ask to see your credit or debit card as a form of identification when you pay with a check;
- Record the type of credit card and expiration date on your check;
- Record a credit card number and expiration date, if the credit card company has agreed to guarantee checks as a special service to its cardholders;
- Record your address and telephone number when you pay by check; and
- Record your address and telephone number when you pay by credit or debit card for shipping, installment, delivery or a special order.
Georgia law provides protection of your personal information (O.C.G.A.Section 10-15-3). When you use a credit or debit card, businesses that transfer your information electronically and give printed receipts may not print more than five digits of your account number, or to print your card’s expiration date, on the receipt they provide you. Businesses that do not have electronic equipment can still imprint your card number or write it down, but all printed receipts for electronic payment must adhere to these guidelines.
Businesses found to be in violation of this law are subject to fines. If you have a complaint involving a violation of this act, please contact the Georgia Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.
To learn more about the reputation of a particular company, you may contact your local Better Business Bureau. You might also wish to read about the way debit card payments from your bank account are pre-authorized by means of a temporary “hold” placed on your money that could last up to several days unless you’re a savvy consumer.