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When you have a new credit card, don't sign your name on the back, instead write your driver's license number. The clerk will have to ask you to see your driver's license but that only takes a minute to check. If your credit card is stolen no one can see your signature to use it.
As far as merchants checking IDs when the card is presented, it is actually a violation of the credit card companies agreement with the merchant to require an ID with the purchase. So a merchant cannot require an ID with the card even if the card says "See ID" or they can be reported and I guess they could lose the ability to accept that credit card. This is only a stipulation with Visa and Mastercard.
On the back of your credit card, instead of your signature, write "Photo ID required". That way if it is stolen, no-one could use it (unless they are an identical twin). It's still important to report it lost or stolen, as this would not protect you in a phone or mail order situation.
By not signing your card it can be declined by a clerk.. as it is part of your agreement to "sign your card ".
Regardless, it can still be used by a crook at a self scanner at a store, gas station or on line.
Call your credit card company before you leave. Let them know where you're headed and what kind of purchases you are likely to be making outside your normal spending pattern.
This is something to think about; your old card is beginning to peel and show wear so you order two new replacement cards with the same numbers ... you may have an embarrassing situation!
True story, the new cards arrived in the mail the day before with a sticker to call a certain number to activate the new cards with the same number and expiration date. We put the new cards aside to call later. We went shopping and made purchases with our old cards; purchases less than $100.00 and had no problem. I dropped my husband off at the automotive repair shop to pick up his vehicle on the way back from shopping and left for home.
When they entered the credit card, as always, it was rejected. This was the same card that was used earlier in the day. There were people in the lobby waiting to pick up their vehicles also. Embarrassing to have people think you have credit problem when you don't. Fortunately, we are established customers with the company.
Embarrassing to say the least, since "we do not carry a balance." My husband questioned this, they called in and he spoke with a representative at the credit card company who had him verify: mother's maiden name, driver's license number, social security number, and since I was on the card also, my social security number, then it was approved. I don't know if the large amount was a trigger or not. When I later called the company they had no explanation as to why some purchases went through and the other didn't; a glitch in the system I guess!
The moral to the story, when your "new card" comes in be sure to call and activate the card before going shopping.
Syd B. from Dunkirk, MD
If you have a tendency to use your credit cards impulsively, try this: put them in a watertight zip-lock baggie. Drop this baggie (sealed shut) inside a larger baggie (or another type of container) that is filled with water.