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Rae Ortega, a junior in the pre-physical therapy program, said she is not concerned about paying with credit because her card has her picture on it.
After waiting in the long lunch lines in The Pit, Fresno State students paying with a credit card might not think twice when the cashier sends them on their way without asking for ID or signature.

No signatures needed in The Pit

Rae Ortega, a junior in the pre-physical therapy program, said she is not concerned about paying with credit because her card has her picture on it.
Joseph Edgecomb / The Collegian

After waiting in the long lunch lines in The Pit, Fresno State students paying with a credit card might not think twice when the cashier sends them on their way without asking for ID or signature.

According to university officials, the security risks of this system might not be as great as some might think.

David Binkle, director of University Dining Services, said that one reason the issue of identification has not caused concern is because most students use cash or debit cards to pay for meals.

“People generally don’t use credit to buy food,” Binkle said.

Debit cards require PIN numbers, so identification is not required. The use of this payment method is becoming more popular.

“Prior to me coming here a year-and-a-half ago, we didn’t even take debit,” Binkle said.

But more and more, debit cards have become the most common form of payment. Binkle said people simply aren’t using credit cards as much anymore.

Students have their own reasons for picking a payment method.

“Cash is just more convenient,” said junior Mauricio Gomez, a construction major who finds that he gets through lines faster when he doesn’t use his card.

Another reason IDs are not required is that the price of the average transaction is minimal. Binkle said that University Dining Services doesn’t have as much liability as other establishments that either sell higher-priced merchandise or a large number of small items.

Whatever is lost at Fresno State due to a declined card or some other issue is covered by the school. However, the amount is never enough to result in a loss of profit.

Freshman Neveida Carrasco, who works as a cashier in the University Student Union food court, said that students don’t usually hang around to find out if their card has been approved.

“The machine is so slow that students don’t usually keep the receipt,” said Carrasco, a Chicano and Latin American Studies major.

A card may decline for various reasons. Usually, it is due to insufficient funds. In some cases, fraud is responsible, but according to Binkle, it is rare that a stolen card would be used to buy a meal.

Binkle thinks that most stolen cards would be used for higher-value items, such as televisions and stereos.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, the user is carrying the card,” Binkle said. “If [fraud] were happening more frequently, we would address it.”

What concerns Binkle more than suspicious credit card activity is the use of counterfeit cash, which could circulate easily into the public. Smaller bills such as $10s or $20s are often used because they are not easily recognized and don’t raise alarm. Binkle said that these bills are getting so realistic that even counterfeit marking pens cannot distinguish the difference.

“It happens about once every two weeks, but it adds up,” Binkle said.

But when it comes to credit purchases, other students are not so lax.

Junior Martin Rodriguez, an art major, said he would want cashiers to check his ID if he were using credit.

“I would feel safer,” Rodriguez said.

Gomez said he never gave it much thought, but that he would also want his ID to be verified if he were paying with credit.

Binkle said he is aware of the identification concern.

“We’ve talked about asking for ID if the amount is a little higher,” Binkle said.

There are also other ways to pay for meals. As part of the commuter meal plan, students can purchase a certain number of meals, which are deducted from a special card.

This card may be obtained at the University Dining Hall. Students may also deduct meals from their ID card. This option is typically for students who live in the dorms.