PIN code takes over from signing

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Bendigo Bank is urging its customers not to panic in the face of a national move to phase out signatures as a form of credit card authorisation.

The bank's message to its customers is, don’t panic - but make sure you are armed with a PIN as soon as possible.

Signatures will be phased out as a form of credit and debit card authorisation from Friday, August 1.

The move comes after an industry-wide push to expand the use of PIN numbers to increase card security.

The Industry Security Initiative is a collective body of Australia's major financial institutions and card schemes and has argued PIN code are safer than signing. 

Bendigo Bank access and payments department head Michael O’Shea said the phase-out process would end on October 18, by which time all payment terminals would have to have removed signature capability.

Mr O'Shea said people should organise PIN codes for their cards as soon as possible. 

“While we don’t expect problems from day one, once terminals do start to be switched over, people must be ready to use their PIN, otherwise they could be standing there with no way to pay,” he said.

Mr O’Shea said the majority of Bendigo Bank’s cardholders had heeded the call to use a PIN when making purchases with their debit or credit cards, with only a low percentage yet to do so.

He said Bendigo Bank had contacted 80,000 customers directly to urge them to switch to a PIN.

“Just in the past few weeks, around 10 per cent of these people per week have been swapping from signature to PIN, so the message is getting through.

“While there are a percentage of our customers still to do so, experience suggests those last few will be the hardest to convince and we will continue our efforts to get them to switch as soon as possible.

“This is all about making payments safer for customers and Bendigo Bank supports the industry wide initiative to reduce risk in the system."

Forensic researcher Richard Boddington from University of Western Australia said the PIN code system was not fail-safe.

He said PIN codes were "tamper resistant, but not tamper proof".

Professor Boddington said a four-digit code was not enough to prevent credit card fraud and other authorisation measures needed to be developed. 

"Why not have a photograph of the user on the card?" he said.

He also said authorities needed to find more conclusive ways to provide digital proof for fraud.

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