If you’ve got a credit card in your wallet right now, chances are there is a message on the back right under the signature field that says “not valid unless signed.” The major credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, require an authorized signature before the card may be processed.
Of course, not all of us sign our cards. Many people leave them blank, and others write “See ID” in the signature field. Typically, merchants will accept these cards and let us make purchases, but according to the credit card companies, they’re not supposed to.
Some security experts advise credit card users to protect themselves from identity theft by signing their card AND writing “See ID” on the back of the card.
Even though technically we’re all supposed to sign credit cards before using them, we rarely even show them to cashiers any more. We ourselves swipe, sign, and put the card away with no interaction with the store clerk until they hand us a receipt. In an age of fast-changing technology, signatures on the backs of cards seem increasingly irrelevant.
Indeed, news came out recently that Australia is moving to PINs only, with no signatures required for using credit cards as of August 2014. Other countries will be sure to follow in their footsteps. Of course, as the recent Target data breach story showed us, even switching to high-tech credit solutions won’t protect us completely.
The near future of retail may be very different when it comes to checkout time. We may end up without cards at all, instead entering a password on our smartphones. In the meantime, our creditors would prefer that we sign our credit cards.
Remember to call us for advice or counseling about credit, mortgages, or any other kind of debt. We’ve been providing free help to consumers for 40 years, and we’re ready to help you free of charge.