Credit Card Tips and Tricks
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I am 72 years old and to this day have never had an establishment look for a signature on the back of my credit card. Most don't even ask for any identification.
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.
Ok... we need to dispel a few myths about "see id."
Do a Google search for "Visa Merchant Rules" (also MasterCard). You will see that the card has to be signed - no ifs, ands, or buts - there is no grey area and I can refuse your transaction if it isn't signed (and many many merchants now do so). 2nd, your "see ID" "fraud protection" is worthless because a Visa/MC merchant MAY NOT refuse a transaction if the customer refuses to provide ID! They can ask for it under certain circumstances, but they can't refuse the transaction if you don't want to provide it! So, a thief takes your card that says "see ID" and makes a purchase... if the cashier actually looks at the back of the card (many don't) and follows the rule, all they will do is hand the card back to the thief and say "sign it." The thief signs it (another good tidbit from the merchant rules is that the signature need not be legible or match the name on the card!) and off they go with your card and their purchased goods... remember, the cashier cannot deny them based on refusal to present ID!
The reality is, the issuer of the card says you have to sign it - it's a contractual obligation that has gotten people in trouble before. Think about it - do you really care if a thief goes and makes purchases with your card? Anymore, you are liable for nothing anyway. The key is to keep track of your cards, carry only the one(s) you intend to use, and keep a secure, encrypted record on your computer (free software is available all over the net) of all of your card data and issuer's telephone numbers - the instant you can't find one of your cards, don't waste time looking for it - just report it lost/stolen - if you find it later you just call back and tell them you found it (although you will most likely receive a new card anyway).
- Your card is not valid unless signed. "See ID" does nothing (a savvy merchant is just going to make you sign it anyway) and in fact makes your card less secure, because;
- Merchants cannot predicate a transaction based upon whether or not you provide ID - if they have a signed card they can't deny the transaction if you refuse to provide ID.
- Be smart. Carry 1 or 2 cards (your credit and a debit).
- Keep a secure, encrypted database of all of your card info.
- The minute you can't find it, report it stolen.
Links to Visa/MC acceptance rules:
Amex and Discover are the same, but there merchant manuals are not publicly available.
I am a mortgage banker and have seen it all on the credit reports that my clients present to me at the time of application. And, while all of these tips are wonderful - credit card fraud and indentity theft are real threats to our financial security. NOTHING will take the place of due-dilligence on the part of the cardholder. Please check your credit report twice per year (it is the best $20 bucks you will spend). Go through all of your account statements when you get them in the mail to ensure that they are correct. If you start receiving collection calls or things out of the ordinary occur, don't brush them off as "tele-marketing". PLEASE do not use your social security number as identification. REFUSE to give it when a clerk at LensCrafters tells you she needs it to "pull up your account info". The Federal governemnt has even required insurance companies to change their "identifier" on your insurance card from your social security number to a non-descript set of numbers. Change the passwords that you use on your credit cards often(especially if you shop online). They "cache" your information and "cookies" keep your pages visited so when you are plugging in the credit card info secure or not these hackers and thieves are smart people - they find a way. At the end of the day we as consumers have to be ever vigilent and protective of our personal information.
This is folklore.
You must sign your card. You can optionally write "See ID" if you want.
Your signature is not primarily a security device. It's primarily a legal agreement to the card's terms. If you don't sign your card, you are financially liable for fraud committed on your account. However, if fraud is committed on your account while your card was signed, then the bank issuing your card is liable for the fraud.
Businesses are required (by the credit card company, not by the law) to only accept signed cards. If they accept an unsigned card, then THEY are liable for fraud. That's why they ask you to sign the card right there before they can swipe it.
And finally, most credit card companies require businesses to accept the credit card and the signature as the ONLY pieces of identification. Even if the cardholder refuses to show photo ID, as long as the credit card and signature checks out ok, the merchant is required to complete the transaction. To do otherwise would break the agreement between the merchant and the credit card company.
Quoteing Post by coolchinchilla (26) | (11/12/2004)
"...If you lose your physical card, there is LESS protection to have "see ID" on it because there is no signature to compare to, so the signature could be anything..."
That is why putting "SEE ID" would require a picture ID (with signature) to tie in the verification. It certainly does not make it LESS protective.
Is anyone with me on this?
Write see id on the back of a card is the worst thing you can do!
Editor's Note: You don't say why. Can you tell us?
The best way is to write "See ID" AND sign your cards. Besides the fact that it is against the policy of the credit card companies not to sign cards, a thief could easily create a fake ID with the cardholder's name on it. Without a signature on the card, we can't tell if the "Jane Smith" on the license is the same "Jane Smith" who is the rightful user of the card.
I'm a victim of ID theft - within two hours, the thief had a fake ID with my info and their pic and signature, and had committed multiple felonies. The police said if they get your DL #, someone who knows what they're doing can get your SSN off the net in 15 min., and then things get really ugly. And yes, they DO take just one or two cards - which are less likely to be noticed quickly than would a whole wallet missing. I sign my cards AND write "please check ID" below my signature. That covers both issues. I also never carry a card I won't use THAT day. I've also put passwords on every account I have, as that is the ONLY thing that will differentiate the real you from someone posing as you.
Just wanted to comment on this tip I recently saw. Putting your license number on your credit card is yet another form of identification that you DON'T want a thief to know! What I do instead is write, "See Photo ID" where the signature goes. It's to the point without telling too much. If you want to change what is on the signature line of your cards, try wiping a dab of rubbing alcohol over it.
I've seen this advice given in other places on the internet with "better security" as the reason.
Even so, I'd caution against using something other than your signature on the back of a credit card. A store is supposed to only take credit cards that have a signature. Using "see ID" does NOT validate a credit card. On the back of every card is says -MUST BE SIGNED TO BE VALID.- If you lose your physical card, there is LESS protection to have "see ID" on it because there is no signature to compare to, so the signature could be anything.
Besides, who loses just their card? Don't you lose your whole wallet or purse? Then the thief has plenty of IDs to show to the clerk with the correct signature. Not hard to forge when the signature is there on your driver's license. Besides, there is a lot of protection with credit cards anyway. If you lose one, you are only responsible for $50 if you report it. A theif could use a card where a signature isn't required anyway (i.e. gas pumps, internet, etc) I don't think "see ID" really does much except muddy the waters.
I did a search and found an interesting anecdote: "On a both related and unrelated note - I used to have "See ID" on the back of my cards because somehow that was supposed to be more secure. Well, when I was over in England, I had all kinds of trouble because of it. Even with a driver's license and passport, it still took several minutes to convince them to let me use my credit card... "
One merchant said that he would call and have a flag put cards that say "see ID" on it to prevent fraud.
Please think twice about not signing your credit cards. To say the least, your security isn't increased much without the signature.
You can also just write "see ID" on the back of your card instead of your signature. That way they will ask too! And if it gets stolen, the chances of the thief being able to use it will be minimal without proper id.
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