Monday, March 6, 2006


After 24 last night, the news came on the local Fox station. And the lead story had to do with the Post Office not taking credit cards or debit cards unless there's a signature on the back.

You know that white strip across the back of the card? It probably has background writing on it or something. And possibly the last four of your credit card and a 3-digit verification code. Anyway, you're supposed to sign it. But lots of people don't.

I've signed some of mine. And others I haven't signed.

Stores are supposed to check the signature on the back. Some have a policy to check ID, too. Yes, it's a pain when they make you do that. But it's for your protection. Really, it is.

Some stores might have policies to check signature and/or ID. But not all store employees follow those policies. But some try to, but just don't understand.

One time, some years ago, I presented a card to a cashier. I hadn't signed the back. The cashier handed it back to me, saying she couldn't accept it because I hadn't signed it.

So, I took out my pen and signed it. And handed it back to her.

She took the card, ran it, then handed me the slip to sign. I signed it, she took the slip, turned my card over and checked to make sure the signatures matched.

The signature on the sales slip I signed in her presence not 20 seconds earlier, and the signature on the card I signed in her presence not 60 seconds earlier.

They matched.

I pocketed my card, and took the stuff I bought.

I'm not sure if she ever bought a clue.


  1. Amazing how well they matched! I always thought that if you sign the card it would give the illegal user something to go by and an easier purchase since most signatures are usually just scribbled in place.

  2. I guess I should appreciate someone looking out for my safety... but I don't.

    I had some clerk examine my card once and tell me they couldn't accept it unsigned. I mentioned that if I had stolen the card, having me sign it then and there would serve no purpose.

    I offered some ID but that wasn't good enough... so I left the goods on the counter and went to their competitor who was more than happy just to have the business.

  3. I think that if you didn't sign it and the cashier refuses to take it then they are doing you a service. I always make a point of thanking a clerk that checks my ID when I present my card.

  4. Cards and ID are usually in the same wallet - should be such a big deal. I think I sand thank you a couple times when asked for ID as Jo. It's signing the "blink'in" card bit that's strange.

  5. You always have such good stories to tell.

  6. I worked for over 10 years in retail and dealt with this ALL THE TIME. Dealing with credit cards for a store clerk is a pure nightmare. Every store has a different policy, and some change the policies regularly based on how much Visa or Mastercard yelled at them this month. Some of the policies (such as REQUIRING a signature on the card) are pretty stupid, but then again, in the most technical terms those rules come from the credit card companies -- it's just that 90% of stores don't enforce the rules.

    If anyone steals your card and they have at least 1/4 of a brain, they are going to use it fast, for large sums, somewhere where no signature is required. Your ID may be in there too, but what's the chances you look like them? They may know cashiers rarely check the picture, but why take a chance when they can buy over the internet?

    Not signing the card will increase the chances that a cashier will ask for your ID, which does give you extra security. That said, not signing your card means if someone gets it, all they have to do is sign it (and therefore the signature on the receipt matches the one on the card) -- thus increasing the chance they will get away with it. Regardless, it's all up to whether the store even LOOKS at the card, if they have an ID policy, and if the cashier bothers to follow a policy if it exists.


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