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Maybe this is a dumb question...

The CC companies always tell us to immediately sign the back of the card as soon as we activate it. And I've always done that and thought nothing of it until now. Until I got into a little discussion with one of my good friends a cpl. weeks ago when I discovered she NEVER signs ANY of her cards. Why, I asked? Because, according to her, it is an extra security mesure that when the merchant does not see a signature, they ask for a backup form of ID, and the fact that they are verifying her ID makes her feel safer.

So I nodded my head and was thinking, wow good idea... until it occured to me that if there is no signature than the potential thief can just sign the card their own way and no one will ever ask for a backup ID anyway!

She responds that this way, since they have not seen her real signature, they can't forge it properly and it will be easy to prove that there was some sort of fraud...

I say your crazy - their not going to pickpocket you, take the CC's out of your wallet, and return the wallet with your driver's license and all.. go convince the DMV that you don't want to sign your license...

Anyway, it was this ridiculous converstation and we go back and forth like this for about 20 minutes - and yet she's still convinced her way is the right way - personally I've never heard of this before.

What do you guys think? Is there something I'm missing here?

nparsn
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I don't sign my CC's. What I do is write "check ID" where the signature should be.

-Steph
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What do you guys think? Is there something I'm missing here?

I don't think you're missing anything. Probably a better security measure is to write "ask for ID" on the back of the card instead. This will protect you when using the card in person.

Whether the card is signed or not will not protect you with online transactions. But then that's what the $50 liability limit on theft is for.
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That's a good idea. Although I almost always am handed back my credit cards before the receipt to sign has even been printed, therefore how is the merchant even comparing signatures let alone reading what's on the back. My husband never signs his cards and he's never asked for ID when he uses the cards he has.

JLizNY
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I agree. I only have one credit card and was once told by a store clerk that it's the only way he handles his credit cards. After that I promptly wrote "Please Check I.D." on the back where the signature line is.

Its amazing though that the amount of people who ring up purchases do not even bother to check the signature on the card to the signature on the credit slip. Only a handful of times since I have used this card can I recall anyone actually looking at the back of the card and then asking for identification. To me it's just the best way to go to have a bit more of protection when buying something with credit.

Of course you can argue that if somebody steals your wallet and forges a new drivers license then they will be able to buy stuff with your their new identification. That is definitely not out of the realm of possibilities but I would think that the chances of that to happen would be slim to none. Nevertheless, even if you happen to be the unlucky participant of such a heist the best bet is to always have a back-up copy of all your credit information at your home in a safe place so you know who to contact and cancel your cards.

Regards,

Scott
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Some of mine are signed but they all have a note in the signature space to check id. Like your friend it makes me feel better that the merchant/clerk check that I am me by asking for i.d.

I have been shopping where they do not even check the signature so I try to avoid those places. As long as there is fraud you can never do enough to protect yourself.


Erica
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I don't sign my CC's. What I do is write "check ID" where the signature should be.

Haha! I guess we were both missing the most obvious thing here. I'm sure somebody told my friend not to sign her cards, and instead write "please check ID"... she must have thought it was a great idea, and later forget that she had to write the these three key words. And then months later, in her explanation to me, it didn't make sense anymore.

Anyway, thanks for the clarification!!!

nparsn
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My, what lengths some folks are willing to go to to protect the CC companies. I recall when they used to have carbon paper in the receipts. The issuers actually had a good number of people making the merchant give them that nasty peice of carbon paper to them so they could tear it up and get their hands dirty. BTW, I've had a couple of incidents with my card and the charges were wiped off easily. I was actually shocked at how easy it was to get fraudulent charges eliminated.They won't be stealing from you, but from the issuer as long as you keep track of what you've done and what's being billed. Of course not many merchants look at the signature panel around here, so it would be pointless anyway.
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Just a point to ponder: I have always written "Please Request ID" on the backs of all my credit cards. Maybe, if I was lucky, 10% of the store clerks I dealt with would actually ask. Then I had a card stolen and several transactions in several different locations were made on that stolen card. The very day I found this out, I took all the cards out of my wallet and a black Sharpie pen out of my desk drawer and re-wrote, in big black indelible ink, "PLEASE REQUEST ID". Wouldn't you know it? Almost very time I've used a card since then, I have been asked for my ID. And I say "thank you for asking" every time.
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Two thoughts on this related to a company I worked for a few years ago during my college years. At Best Buy, we always looked at the signature. If the signature didn't match, we asked for ID. If the card wasn't signed, we asked for ID and then requested the person sign the card before we would accept the transaction (or write SEE ID, etc...). If the card had been demagnified (i.e. didn't scan) we took a physical imprint of the card rather than just punching the numbers into the register. I actually got a $50 reward a couple of times for catching cc thieves. At least its comforting to know at some of the companies with big ticket items they are taking extra security.
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One of the news magazines tested credit card signatures a few years ago--they actually used the photo credit cards and the clerks would accept them every time--they didn't care if the photo was of a black woman being passed by a white man or whatever--they just didn't check AT ALL. Since then I haven't worried too much about what I had on the cards...
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I wrote "Ask for ID" on the back of all my credit cards. I never wait until the cashier/clerk asks for it, I always hand over my ID with my CC. One time, the cashier looked at my ID so closely, she commented that I looked much better after having lost weight! That made me go get a new ID photo taken!!! Every now and then one will hand it back, saying "I don't need to see it" so I tell them "yes you do" and hand it right back. It's for your protection that they ask. If they don't ask, you should go to the manager.
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Actually, it is against the rules of Visa/Mastercard for them to ask you for ID unless the card is unsigned. Though I suppose the notation 'ask for ID' is not a signature.

I don't get how you think going through all that aggravatgion would be 'for my protection'. The issuer eats all the losses. I know the law allows them to make you pay $50 but none of them do it.

BTW, I've been through the drill too. A pickpocket lifted my wife's wallet and had quite a jolly time on our GM Card. I had a bunch of charges added by a pizza delivery service though we hadn't ordered pizza in a long time. Evidently one of the employees got ahold of our card number and traded cash from the till for charges to our card. Yes, a minor inconvenience of having to wait for new cards and we had to sign (but not get notarized) an affidavit that we were ripped off in the pickpocket case. In the pizza parlor pilferage they just reversed the charges.

It's more trouble than it's worth to worry about, and it's for the issuer's protection, not mine.
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The problem with the signature on credit cards is that it's a very small security measure.

The idea behind it is that the clerk is supposed to check that the signature you put on a receipt matches the signature on the card. This obviously is negated with online sales.

If you go with this way of thinking, and you have a clerk that's truly on the ball (hard to find), then by having signed your card would be a good security measure. If there's no signature, then the thief could sign your name, and then the handwriting would obviously match the receipt.

Overall, I agree that the best way is to just write "check ID" on the card, but truly the best scenario, imo, would be to have a sophisticated high-tech system, as with fingerprint matching.

Tony
...but I still am...

Off2Aruba
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"Just a point to ponder: I have always written "Please Request ID" on the backs of all my credit cards. Maybe, if I was lucky, 10% of the store clerks I dealt with would actually ask. Then I had a card stolen and several transactions in several different locations were made on that stolen card. The very day I found this out, I took all the cards out of my wallet and a black Sharpie pen out of my desk drawer and re-wrote, in big black indelible ink, "PLEASE REQUEST ID". Wouldn't you know it? Almost very time I've used a card since then, I have been asked for my ID. And I say "thank you for asking" every time."

I have to admit that I like being asked for my ID on credit cards and CHECKS also. It really makes me uncomfortable when a merchant takes a check or cc without asking for ID and looking at the pictures on the ID.

Stockbuyer2
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What do you guys think? Is there something I'm missing here?

Nparsn,

I used to ponder this myself, then I ran across someone who had already figured it out. I write "Ask for ID" on the strip on the back. I have found that about 50% of the time they ask for my ID and the other 50%, they could care less. Also, most debit machines are consumer operated now, so the clerk never even sees your card.

Bret
Call me paranoid, but I've been scammed before
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I have to admit that I like being asked for my ID on credit cards and CHECKS also. It really makes me uncomfortable when a merchant takes a check or cc without asking for ID and looking at the pictures on the ID.

It drives me nuts to see people who have their driver's license number imprinted on their checks, and when they give the merchant a check, and are asked for their driver's license, they say that the number is imprinted on the check. And the merchant ALWAYS accepts it, without ever actually seeing the driver's license.
Beth
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I never sign my CC's either in stead I write Please ask for ID. They always ask. I feel better knowing they do.

Ho-Lo
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I don't sign my CC's. What I do is write "check ID"...

When I worked at a bookstore a guy did the same thing. Where the signature line is he wrote "see driver's license"

giftedhands

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I do not sign any of my CCs any more either. Rather, I write "See ID" on the back of each card, that way they are forced to ask for a verfication ID AND no one can sign my name on the back of the card.

Campy
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Overall, I agree that the best way is to just write "check ID" on the card, but truly the best scenario, imo, would be to have a sophisticated
high-tech system, as with fingerprint matching.


Hey, Tony,
One of my employer's spin-offs can help you with that:

http://www.authentec.com/

Wal-Mart has installed these swipe-it-yourself card readers. I was once told, "You can just swipe it yourself there," when handing over my CC. I always hand them the card, and they check the signatures. I don't know if they've changed their procedures, as I always hand them my card, and I was only asked to swipe it myself once a year or so ago, but that kind of thing concerns me. I'm not helping myself much when I offer my card to have them check the signature - I know I'm me. I'm concerned about when someone else gets my lost or stolen card and swipes it without being checked. If they don't check them all, then it doesn't help much. Only the people using their own cards offer them to be checked. Duh.
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I usually write " see picture id" on the white stripe. That way the thief will not have anywhere to sign and it reminds the merchants to ask for my ID.
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Quick reply. Most stores don't even look at the signature side. And those that do, seldom if ever, ask for a picture ID. KMart, however, just started doing that in SoCal--asking for picture ID.

Absolutely ridiculous not to sign it. If store sees it they don't think much of it. They may ask for more ID but so what?

WI
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I agree with the no signature, but I like the new cards with a photo ID.
This will remove all doubt.
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Did she or you bring up the fact that some cards now have pictures on them like your license?. I guess if you only owned cards willing to print your photo on it then is this problem resolved?.
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The best way i've found to get around this is to sigh the back of your c/c "SEE DRIVERS LICENCE" If your face don't match the license, then the c/c don't belong to you!
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well while we are on the subject, how did it get Fashionable
to print your driver's license number on your checks?

I can't understand why someone would make it so easy for someone stealing your checkbook to write checks!

Once I had a check stolen, and the people didn't trust the guy for some reason & called my house. My husband asked, was her signature nice and feminine, pretty & legible? they said yes.
Well, he replied, that's not MY wife! My signature is hard to copy since you cant' tell WHAT it says.

j@##$$%%^:ce
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I sign my cards, but for those of you who don't, do you ever have any problems with them being accepted? The backs of most cards say something like "not valid if unsigned" and since I have yet to meet someone named Ask For ID, it seems that these could be considered unsigned, and therefore, invalid. My local post office has a sign that says credit cards must be signed; they will not take unsigned or "check id" cards.

On a similar note, I'm a cashier, and you would not believe how often a customer comes up to make a purchase with their "spouse's" credit card, and gets furious at me because I refuse to take it. They indignantly state that "they've never had a problem using it before." I've never understood that argument. They prefer to shop at a store that takes any card from anyone, no questions asked? What if it was their card being used fraudulently?

Oh, and many thanks to those of you who get out your card and ID while waiting in line, and thank me for checking ID. I appreciate it more that you know!

Jane
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This has been an interesting discussion, but another factor is your time spent with all this ID checking. Time is an important resource so why spend it providing IDs, engaging in the inevitable converstions with the clerks, and holding up everyone else in line?

Legally you can be held responsible for at most $50 of fraudulent credit card charges, and if the card issuer believes you were not complicent in the fraud they will rarely even hold you responsible even for the $50. If the card company nevertheless tries to make you pay, just refuse. Probably they won't sue you for the $50. And if they do, the judge will probably roll his eyes or worse at them.
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Visa's Zero Liability policy:

http://www.visa.com/av/zero_liability/main.html

"100% protection for you. Visa's enhanced policy guarantees you maximum protection against fraud. You now have complete liability protection for all of your card transactions that take place on the Visa system. Should someone steal your card number while you're shopping, online or off, you're protected-you pay nothing for their fraudulent activity.

Mastercard's

http://www.mastercard.com/ourcards/zeroliability.html

"If someone makes an unauthorized purchase using your MasterCard card number, you will not be responsible for that purchase."

I only have personal experience with Mastercard. It realy is a very minor inconvenience when it happens. The only reason I could imagine worrying is because I had only one card and no alternative way of paying for my purchases. But that situation should set off the warning bells in and of itself.
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Most companys offer your photo on the card. That's what I have on most of mine. I did have a chase MC that did not. I had signed it, which did not even slow down my stepdaughter when she took it. Now, that one is gone,(at my request)and I only have the one card (low interest over the net) without a photo. I wrote (at the suggestion of Sargent Dale, who assisted with the theft issues) C.I.D. on the back . I have only had one time where I was not asked to see my ID, and I pointed it out to the walmart clerk, and showed the ID anyway to protect others in the future. Just goes to show, that YES just one card can be taken.

Best of luck, SN
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I've noticed a few of my CC's have statement stating "Card not valid unless signed." This is relevent. I think for the best security, one should sign their cards and write "Please check ID".

I realize the white strip is small, but I think its worth it.
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I sign my cards, but for those of you who don't, do you ever have any problems with them being accepted?

I once stood in line behind a woman in Sears who was furious they would not take her unsigned card. She kept insisting her "policeman friend told her not to sign" The clerk and the manager went over every one of these reasons for her. As she's leaving she's screaming about how she'll bring a lawsuit etc.
Esther
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Have you ever had the clerk who looks at the unsigned credit card and insists that you sign it? So you do, and they compare the signature to the slip that you also just signed, when it matches (duh), they are satisfied that you are the owner of the card, and hand you your purchase with a smile and a thank you.

Beth
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I sign my cards, but for those of you who don't, do you ever have any problems with them being accepted?

I once stood in line behind a woman in Sears who was furious they would not take her unsigned card. She kept insisting her "policeman friend told her not to sign" The clerk and the manager went over every one of these reasons for her. As she's leaving she's screaming about how she'll bring a lawsuit etc.
Esther


I used my Sears card to ring up thousands and thousands of dollars on purchases without a signature on the back. Geez, I wish that they HAD refused my card a few times. ;-) Well, I was a Best Customer, though.

Layback
who got rid of that Sears balance and the card after becoming a Fool last year.
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I followed a suggestion several years ago and now sign my cards "Request photo ID" so the cashier will ask for a photo and something is in the signature area. However, monitoring this shows that only about 30-40% even look at the back of the card.
Ron
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