More suggestions from Internet ScamBusters subscribers about credit fraud prevention
Below are credit fraud prevention tips #4 through #7 that we received from our Internet ScamBusters subscribers. (Click here if you haven't yet read credit card fraud prevention suggestions 1 to 3.)
Credit fraud prevention suggestion #4:
As a retail clerk, I can assure you that even with a signature, you're not protecting yourself by signing or not signing your credit card. When was the last time you actually saw a clerk compare signatures? And when the signatures are checked and don't match, there is always an excuse that is believed.
I had "CHECK ID" written boldly on the back of my credit card, and a clerk at the post office refused to accept my credit card until I had signed it. Unfortunately, she never asked for an ID when she watched me sign! However, I now have both on my credit card, and those few clerks that actually check will ask for an ID, even though the signature is there.
As a clerk, however, what are we supposed to do if someone hands us a signed card, or a card with "CHECK ID" on the back, and either the signatures don't match, or they don't have an id with them? No one has ever told me. So few clerks actually check that a person could use a card for months without ever being questioned, and once questioned they are handed the card back and can walk to the store next door and CONTINUE TO USE THE CARD.
Credit fraud prevention suggestion #5:
Your information about #5 on your credit card list was incomplete. Our house attorney advised us to sign our cards and then to add "Do not accept without positive photo id." below the signature. The cards are then photocopied (front and back) to prove to the card companies that their merchants are at fault if the cards are ever misused or stolen.
Credit fraud prevention suggestion #6:
So, when you leave your credit card unsigned, the person who steals it, signs it his/her way with your name...How does that protect you?? I do think the "see ID" makes sense though... Sue
Editors Note: The suggestion was never to leave the signature area blank. It is to write something like 'See Photo ID' in that space -- so no one else can sign your card instead of you.
Credit fraud prevention suggestion #7:
I'm sorry, but you completely failed to make your case. Just stating that something is an urban legend and a bad idea is not enough. We need to hear concrete reasons why signing the card is worthwhile. These must refute the very good reasons stated in your example emails.
Back in the old days before identity theft was so rampant, I could see where the signature provided some value, but only if it could be compared to another signature, such as the one on the license. Otherwise, anyone who steals the card could merely sign it any way they want, and it's "signed" and good enough for the merchant.
Perhaps it is a problem that merchants have gotten used to not checking IDs with credit cards. The idea of putting "SEE ID" in the signature seems like a very good one, if you want to make your card less attractive for a thief. The idea that a pen-and-ink signature is somehow proof or protection is plain silly.
For more suggestions on how to prevent credit card scams, click here.