Can you increase security by not signing the back of your credit card?
I don't think the credit card companies will allow this. They check your signature as a method of verifying your identity. If a card is unsigned, the merchant may be obligated by their agreements with the credit card companies to reject it.
When I was a department store cashier we were supposed to check the signature on the card against the sales audit receipt. The policy was to check the ID if the back of the card wasn't signed or if the signatures were totally dissimilar. However, if someone stole your unsigned card, it would actually be less secure because they could easily forge your signature on the back of the card and it would match the signature on the sales audit receipt. It would probably be better to write "Ask for ID" on the back of your card if you want your ID verified (even though I did this and it's still only checked about a third of the time).
I never understood why people think it is better to not sign their card and/or put "see id" on the back. If anyone stole a card, I doubt they'd be dumb enough to leave the "see id" on the back. Secondly, a lot of places will simply not take the card without a signature and will not let you proceed to sign it in front of them. Lastly, as someone else mentioned, the thief would simply sign the back and therefore be able to sign the receipt with a matching signature.
To all of those addressing or questioning this issue, read the back of your card. It says "Not valid unless signed." If you do not sign the card, you do not agree to the terms and conditions of the card. This means that the issuing authority may not be obligated to protect you in the case of fraud. It seems to me that by not signing the card, you are greatly increasing your risk.
My husband and I both sign our cards and put "check ID" on the back of the cards. While it's a bit inconvenient to pull out our driver's licenses to confirm ID, it protects us. This way if someone did steal our cards our signatures would be on the back of the cards with the request of the ID's. A police officer recommended signing the cards & writing "check ID", with a Sharpie or some form of permanent ink.
Your signature is not there for authentication, but to signify that you accept the cardmember agreement. Merchants who accept blank cards or cards endorsed with "See ID" risk not being paid if there are any issues with the transaction later!
By law, you are only liable for $50 of any fraudulent transactions on your card. Most credit card banks like AMEX, Citibank, MBNA, etc. actually offer zero-liability on their cards, which means that you are not liable for any fraudulent activity at all!
If you don't sign the card -- you are actually not eligible for those benefits!
The only risk I see in not signing your card is that the merchant might reject your use of the card. If they do, generally you can take your businees elsewhere or find a way to pay with cash. As far as not being protected from fraud unless your card is signed -- isn't that what we are trying to avoid in the first place?
The fact is that if someone steals your card and duplicates your signature reasonably (and this doesn't take much), YOU are responsible for WHATEVER they charge, not just the $50 maximum alluded to above. While someone could argue that in this age of technology a thief could easily create a fake ID card within a few hours, that is usually the amount of time it takes before you realize your card is missing. Furthermore, even if they use the fake card, you are protected because they didn't sign with your "reasonable" signature.
I don't give a care about what the credit card companies say. They just want to sell you their theft-protection insurance anyway!
The regulation is called Regulation E. It protects customers and banks against any unauthorized electronic transfer. That can be POS (point-of-sale) transactions, computer bill paying, ATM withdrawals, etc. If you do not sign the back of your card, you are not agreeing to the terms which were given to you when you received your card. This regulation was disclosed. If you put "see ID" or "CID" you will lose your rights under this regulation.
You are responsible for up to $50 if you notify your bank within two business days of the unauthorized transaction. If it takes you more than two business days you can be charged $500 and up. I have been working for a credit card company and now a financial institution for over 10 years. This is a bad recommendation that is spread around by e-mails. Educate yourself and Google "Regulation E" if you want more information!
Those of you who claim that the signature is required on credit cards are simply ill-informed and this is NOT an "urban legend" in spite of what some people naively claim. I invite you to look at the website of virtually every credit card company. See the Capital One website link at the bottom of this page.
Look in the section "How Can I Prevent ID Theft?" Capital One Bank's Fraud Group clearly states "Sign your credit card or write that the merchant must 'Check I.D.' on the back of your card."
So, clearly, those of you who say that signature is required are just flat wrong, and that it is even documented by major credit card companies (Capital One isn't the only one - check MBNA, Chase, and others as well) to put "Check ID" in order to avoid identity theft.
Only the U.S. Postal Service and my State Liquor Store have refused to take my credit cards. As a result, I use my credit card online on the USPS website to purchase stamps (when obviously the card isn't even available to them) and I write a fee-free credit card check in the liquor store. Every other merchant seems to be intelligent enough to grasp that it is a lot more difficult to generate a fake State Driver's License than to sign a fake signature.
In response to the link to Capital One I suggest reading the Visa website link at the bottom of the page.
It clearly states that "See ID" is not acceptable. A signature is required. Of course, if Capital One honors its statements you shouldn't be in any trouble... However, I'd listen to Visa over Capital One.
I work for a large financial institution and signing a credit card is required for it to be guaranteed against fraud. It says so on the back.
I have "See ID" on the back of my Visa and it is in large letters written with a permanent marker. I know for a fact if someone stole my card and tried to use it at a store there would be no way for them to write my name over the "See ID," therefore proving my point of not signing the back of my card. On the Visa website link at the bottom of this page they state that you must "ask the cardholder to sign the card and provide current government identification, such as a driver's license or passport (if local law permits)." IF LOCAL LAW PERMITS. What cashier is going to know, off the top of their head, if the local law permits.
I know there's probably going to be more than 1 out of 10 cahiers in any given store that would. However, I can tell you that I work for a HUGE retail store and I check ID, but not if the card is signed. If the signatures don't match though, I do check. In a normal day of dealing with 1000+ customers I usually find half of their signatures do not match their credit card OR their driver's license. Even after looking at their Driver's License they don't always look the same. What am I supposed to do? Say sorry, you can't buy these clothes you don't need anyway today because nothing matches? People are changing all the time and most of the time they're in a rush so they don't sign right.
One time a girl working with me asked a manager if she could let the purchase go through if the person's signatures didn't match their credit card and they didn't have a license on them. He agreed to let the purchase go through. PEOPLE DON'T CARE.
Then again, like in every situation, there's also something that could go wrong. When some places ask for my ID, the person asking could have a ridiculously great memory and memorize my ID, and know where I live, and know that I just bought a big screen TV, and a new laptop and two digital cameras. They might have taken a picture of my credit card and my ID next to each other while talking to me about something. I guess there's really nothing good in any credit card.
There's really no fail-safe way of preventing fraud so do whatever you think is best...
I BOTH sign my cards and write "Please See ID". I do this with a permanent marker pen and then, after it has dried, I dab a coat of clear nail polish over the signature panel, to reduce the possibility of it being worn down in my wallet. If the clerk looks at the back of the card, 90% of the time, they'll ask for ID. The problem is getting them to look at the signature in the first place!