Consumer bill aims to prevent identity theft

The proposed law was termed a very "important development" by the Israel Consumer Council.

In an effort to combat identity theft and help ensure that sensitive information does not end up in the wrong hands, the Knesset Economics Committee on Tuesday proposed a new law limiting information that appears on customer credit card receipts to just the first or last four digits of the purchaser's card number. Today, approximately 40 percent of supermarkets and retailers print receipts that display the entire credit card number. "The main reason we moved to introduce such a law in the Knesset is because it is important that personal information isn't given away and used to steal with," said MK Robert Ilatov (Israel Beitenu) who, along with MK Yosef Shagal (Israel Beitenu), co-authored the law. "We have the technology in this country to make it possible for all places of business to install the right software for this." According to Ilatov, many customers do not take the copies of the receipts they receive, exposing themselves to the possibility that their credit card information, including the full name, number and expiration date on the card, will be used to purchase large amounts of merchandise at their expense. "Customers need a greater amount of protection against such a thing happening and this law will help prevent it," Ilatov said. The Israeli Police could not provide actual numbers or patterns of credit card theft here, but identity theft has become a serious problem around the world. The proposed law was termed a very "important development" by the Israel Consumer Council. "What we are dealing with is the ability for consumers to defend their private information," Ze'ev Friedman, legal representative of the Council, told The Jerusalem Post. "This is very important because, unfortunately, many consumers are not careful about taking their receipts and they are not so careful about consistently checking their accounts to make sure no extra charges show up." Last month, the research company BDI-Coface reported that the number of actively used credit cards in Israel rose 14 percent in the first six months of the year to 4.9 million, while credit card companies saw their revenues rise to NIS 1.4 billion, an increase of 12% from the same period last year. "More and more people are using credit cards, and many times they use them in places such as at small markets and street-fairs that have not yet installed the new technology, and this is very dangerous," Friedman said. Unlike the system in the US, where consumers are allowed to dispute a charge before making payment, in Israel, accounts are charged automatically, leaving the consumer to fight with the credit card company to get their money back. "This makes it very tough on the consumer and hopefully, instances of this will be cut down once the new law is passed," Friedman said. Meanwhile, officials from Visa Cal and Isracard present at the Economics Committee meeting said the credit card companies themselves won't be affected should a new law that regulates the information on printed receipts be passed. "The businesses that will be forced to pay for the installation of new technology and software are the ones that should really be at this meeting as they will be set back by having to purchase the new equipment," said Alon Levi, legal representative of Visa Cal. Footing that bill will be Israeli merchants who will have to upgrade their processing equipment. The Economics Committee plans to invite the Israel Small and Medium Enterprise Authority, which represents those business owners, to its next meeting on the issue.