Credit card myth: Showing ID at the register

Though technology is far from perfect and we all generally know we are taking some risk when utilizing just about any of it these days, many of us still do not think twice when we hand over our credit cards at the store. Even though we sign for it, seldom are we asked to show any form of ID by the store employees. Whether you are for or against this practice of not enforcing the “SEE ID” note on the back of many credit and debit cards, it cannot be denied that there are pros and cons to both sides.

A benefit of not asking for an identification is that the store can keep the trust and faith of the customer. Many people may feel that they are being suspected of something if they are asked for an ID – not a welcome feeling, nor one that will encourage them to return to the store. Furthermore, many people already feel that they are forking over a lot of information by handing a clerk their card, which gets put into a machine…asking for an ID card may make them feel a little too personal, or even that their privacy is being violated.

Of course, on the opposite side of the fence, there is the obvious risk of fraud. If not asked to present a valid form of identification, the store puts the cardholders at risk of fraudulent charges. Fraud could probably be greatly prevented by asking for the ID of the card user, but if stores are not enforcing such a thing, it sadly continues to grow as a problem.

Though merchants are generally supposed to ask for identification, in the cases of Visa and Mastercard, they are not actually required to demand it. That means that the customer can actually refuse to show an ID and the merchant still has to go through with the transaction – putting cardholders at risk of fraud, in some cases. Then again, the risk of a tricky employee stealing private information has some people too nervous to hand over a driver’s license or similar form of ID.

What the majority of the companies has done is left it up to the consumer: those who would like to be asked to present identification can write “SEE ID” on their card, or simply automatically present identification at their transactions. Those who prefer to keep that information private may choose to do so. 

Neither way is a perfect system, but as they say, you can’t please everyone – you can just hope for honesty.