Friday, May 16, 2008

Showing Your ID When Paying With a Credit Card

The June 2008 issue of Money Magazine brought something to my attention. When I purchase something with a credit card, I thought I was safer when the cashier asked for my ID. Nope. Showing your ID provides strangers (i.e., cashiers) with a lot of information that they don't need. In conjunction with your credit card number, that data can seriously impact the security of my identity. Less serious, it might be used to put my name on a mailing list. All of that sounds terribly unappetizing to me.

The article goes on to say:
"since major card issuers won't hold you liable for fraudelent charges, being forced to show ID doesn't give you any extra protection."
Here's what they suggest:
  • MasterCard, Visa and Discover forbid stores from requiring ID with a signed card, so refuse the request. Amex discourages the practice.
  • Print this clause and carry it in your wallet to back up your refusal to the cashier.
  • If they still give you a hard time, call your CC company for assistance. The rep will either convince the cashier, or issue a complaint, which can lead to a fine or suspension for the merchant. 800) MC-ASSIST; (800) VISA-911; (800) DISCOVER.
  • There's always cash.
Irish (and other European) credit cards require a PIN for all transactions, which is entered like an ATM PIN. It seems to be a much more reliable method of assuring security than signing the back of the card and crossing your fingers. I never understood the point of that, really.

We really don't get asked for our ID often these days, although IKEA did ask just last weekend. That said, having worked in retail back when, I would assume that most cashiers who ask for an ID do so with nothing but good intentions. So if you refuse, be nice :-)