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Tesco self-scan tills 'open to card fraud'

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Security shortcomings involving Tesco self-service tills make it easier for crooks to pay for groceries using stolen credit or debit cards, according to UK consumer group Which?.

At around 200 of the supermarket’s stores, shoppers can scan their shopping themselves before paying for groceries using cards. The problem is that Tesco doesn’t require customers to sign for purchases or enter a PIN code.

Which? issued its warning after receiving complaints from angry punters who found themselves hundreds of pounds out of pocket through fraudulent purchases made at Tesco's tills. The people affected were able to claim refunds from their banks. Which? researchers were able to confirm that it was easy to buy goods using someone else's card at a Tesco superstore in London. No checks were made to confirm the identity of shoppers flashing the plastic.

Neil Fowler, editor of Which? magazine, described the practice as "irresponsible". "As a shop that prides itself on caring about its customers, we can only hope they [Tesco] close this obvious loophole and introduce standard security procedures in the very near future," he said.

Tesco's pay-at-pump scheme doesn't require a PIN or signature when motorists pay for petrol either, according to Reg reader Steve, who reports having "cash stolen from my debit account purely from someone knowing my card number" last month.

Tesco said that fraud levels connected with its self-service tills and petrol pumps were low. Nonetheless it said it was introducing Chip and PIN validation technology to these tills, roll-out scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

"While it is impossible to stamp out all credit card fraud, fraud levels at our self-service checkouts and petrol pumps are very low and no higher than at our main checkouts, which have full Chip and PIN," a Tesco spokesman told BBC News.

"When we originally introduced the self-service tills over two years ago, Chip and PIN was not a proven technology. Now that it has become widely accepted we will be rolling it out into all our 320 current installations - this process has already begun and should be completed by December," he added.

London Underground self-service tills and kiosks at railway stations used to allow travelers to purchase tickets without signing for purchases or entering a PIN code. Chip and PIN was introduced in the tube earlier this year. In neither instance are we aware of fraud reports but the potential for abuse was clearly there. We doubt whether Tesco's self-service tills remain the only UK outlet where you're still able to use plastic without authorisation. ®

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