Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Serious Business

Last week, VeriFone said and did some things calculated to hurt their competitor. VeriFone almost certainly lost the PR war, and I don’t really know what to make of the substance of their claims.

To be brief, VeriFone makes equipment that lets companies accept credit card payments, and they posted an incoherent open letter to consumers and “the industry” about a competitor’s hardware which is functionally identical to their own. VeriFone demands their competitor issue a recall, because such personal information as “name” and “credit card number” can be stolen by a person who runs the card through a card reader.

I wrote “a card reader” because both VeriFone and its competitor have a device that reads your name and credit card number from the magnetic strip on the back of the card. This information is the same stuff that is printed on the face of the card — it’s kind of ludicrous to think this is secret. Anyone who handles or even looks at a credit card has access to this information, not just those rogue users of the competitor’s device. These sorts of histrionics are extremely out of place, and smack of FUD when you consider the relative costs of Verifone to its competitors. (Hint: Verifone is not the cheaper choice.)

The one solid point that VeriFone has in its letter is the fact that the CVV1 codes are not printed on the face of the card, only the CVV2 code is. You can’t read that information with its competitor’s official software; you need third-party software to snag the CVV1 code, which VeriFone helpfully wrote and uploaded to its site (along with a tutorial video posted to YouTube) for all the world to see.

To their credit, VeriFone removed the links once it was (correctly) pointed out that they were acting like children.