Visa, Mastercard, AmEx make controversial move to track customers

Top credit card companies are making a huge move that could change the complexion surrounding one of the most controversial topics in the country.

Visa  (V) , Mastercard  (MA) , and American Express  (AXP)  are looking to make a merchant code for firearm and ammunition retailers in California which would allow for the police to track any potential suspicious purchases of guns, according to a report by CBS News.

The move abides by a new California law that allows banks to track the purchase of guns.

Anyone who owns a credit card can see that most purchases are categorized. For example, a purchase at a fast food restaurant may be classified as “restaurants.” Firearm and ammunition retailers were previously coded alongside other retailers like sports stores, making it more difficult to track gun purchases specifically.

The CBS report said that this new move could help law enforcement with tracking suspicious activities like “identify theft or terrorist financing,” but it also said that the code would not provide data on the customer, nor would it show the items purchased.

The report said that seven states with Republican legislatures have banned the code and nine other states are looking to implement some form of ban or restriction as well.

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But while the companies are moving to make the change in California, it’s clear that they are attempting to remain neutral to the very political change. The companies seem to be moving forward with the coding based on state legislation.

Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren told CBS in a statement that the rule could help prevent mass shootings and that she is hoping more states begin to follow California’s lead.

“It’s a start that credit card companies have committed to comply with the [merchant code] law in California, but we need implementation across the country if we’re going to do everything we can to prevent gun violence,” Warren said in the statement.

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