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American Express drops signature requirement for purchases

Cyber thieves steal identities
Criminals skip the chips for online account takeovers 03:34

American Express (AXP) will stop requiring a signature for purchases early next year, the credit-card issuer announced. It joins Mastercard (MA) and Discover (DFS), which eliminated signature requirements earlier this year. AmEx said the changes will be effective next April and will apply to purchases globally. 

"Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud," said Jaromir Divilek, the company's executive vice president of Global Network Business, in a press release. AmEx already doesn't require signatures for purchases under $50 in the US and under $100 in Canada.

Discover announced last week it was eliminating signatures, and Mastercard made the change in October. All three companies cited advances in security technology as reasons to do away with the signature, once a widespread method to ensure that a card purchase was genuine. 

Since 2015, US credit cards have been required to have chips, which create a unique code for every transaction, making them much less susceptible to fraud. But such cards are less secure than similar European chip cards that require a pin, critics point out. Fraudsters using technology like card skimmers can still steal data from a chip card. 

Visa (V), which eliminated signatures for transactions under $25, remains the only major credit-card company to require a signature for other purchases.

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