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Mastercard Gives Special Privilege to Transgender Card Holders

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Somewhere along the way, many companies started catering to tiny groups of minorities, oftentimes at the expense of the majority. Remember how some folks were mad about store employees saying “Merry Christmas” and stores switched the greeting to “Happy holidays?”

That’s one example, but Mastercard may have just taken the cake on the issue.

On Monday, the credit card company announced a new initiative for its transgender customers called “True Name.” It essentially allows them to use whatever name they want on their credit cards, if the bank issuing the card honors the program.

“For many in the LGBTQIA+ community, the name on their credit, debit or prepaid card does not reflect their true identity,” Mastercard spokesman Jim Issoksen wrote on the company’s blog. “As a result, for the transgender and non-binary communities in particular, the card in their pocket can serve as a source of sensitivity, misrepresenting their true identity when shopping and going about daily life.”

Issoksen cited a study that found “nearly one-third (32%) of individuals who have shown IDs with a name or gender that did not match their presentation reported negative experiences, such as being harassed, denied services, and/or attacked.”

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Some lenders allow nicknames on cards, but for services such as cash advances, government photo identification is required.

Part of the reason a legal name is required is that the U.S. government regulates these companies to some degree in order to keep an eye on and prevent potential money laundering and terrorist activities.

Do you think this new program could be exploited by bad actors?

Matt Schulz, an industry analyst, called Mastercard’s new program “bold” but said it’s “not without risk.”

“If the person’s legal name doesn’t match the name on their credit card, it could potentially cause some confusion if a merchant asks the customer for their ID,” he told the Washington Examiner. “That doesn’t happen nearly as often as it once did, but it does happen.”

Credit card rewards programs, specifically airline miles, also could pose a problem since users typically have to register with their legal name so that it matches their government identification or passport.

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“That means that if you want to collect rewards points with your credit card and have them match with an airline loyalty account, you will likely have to have your legal name with that credit card,” Schulz explained.

Even worse is the possibility of this new program being grossly exploited by identity thieves — who tend to be on the upper end of the intelligence scale in the world of thieving.

What’s to stop people from identifying as the opposite sex or someone else entirely and changing the name on their credit cards to match?

Though I’m far from an expert in identity theft, I don’t think it takes an analyst in the field to recognize the potential for exploitation of the new feature by bad actors and even would-be terrorists.

From personal experience, in certain situations when I’ve forgotten my identification or driver’s license, I’ve instead been able to prove my identity with a major credit card. With a Mastercard, I can now hypothetically have any name I wanted on the card to create a temporary identity for myself.

That’s scary because, again, I’m not an identity thief, but just imagine what experienced identity thieves could do with the new option.

According to CNBC, the “True Name” program is set to be launched in early 2020.

While the company may have the best of intentions, only time will tell if their efforts to join the LGBTQ rights movement will cause more harm than good.

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Ryan Ledendecker is a freelance journalist and writer. He began reporting news and writing commentary during the 2014 Ferguson riots. Prior to that, he worked as a web editor and columnist for an award-winning local newspaper.
Ryan Ledendecker plunged headfirst into news reporting and political commentary while on the ground during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. He later wrote extensively on Donald Trump's presidential campaign and election.

When he's not writing, Ryan spends time improving his barbecue skills. He has his own brand of BBQ rub and is a trophy winner in the world of competitive BBQ.
St. Louis, Missouri
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