No Shock Here: Credit Card Signatures are Useless

<Gasp!> I wasn't surprised to read this yesterday.  I have, perhaps, some of the worst handwriting known to man.  I'll be forever grateful that I took the SATs before they include a cursive writing portion.  Maybe it helps to explain that my father is a dentist... or maybe I've just been typing since the commodore 64. 

In truth, I've never found it really comforting when the checkout staff at the local Target draws their collective intelligence together, holding my card and signed receipt up to the light, while they try and determine if I'm trying to use a stolen credit card to buy a reeses peanut butter cup and a $10 cd. 

Comments (11)

  1. Brook says:

    I am ashamed at my handwitting too. My signature looks like an eight year old did it, but I am an IT professional, and handwriting is completely outside of my skillset.

  2. Darrell says:

    What IS useful is keeping a copy of the receipt the way you signed it for your records. That way if the crappy waiter adds $10 to his tip you can dispute it with your credit card company.

  3. David Betz says:

    Haha that’s hillarious. It’s so stupid that they still do tha. I find it fun to confuse them. I *deliberately* use a different signature everytime. If they give me any trouble I say something like "Yeah I’m right handed now…"

    One time I even signed a different name…the guy looked at me like "uhhh huh??" I was able to purchse my new 120GB hard drive any ways though.

    I remember one time when a moron behind the coutner asked for my driver’s license and said to me "Um…this isn’t your driver’s license. I’m still confused by that one… I only go back to that store to mess with the guys head by each time adding more swirls to, using less letters in, or completely changing the slant of my signature…it’s always fun.

  4. Eric Maino says:

    No joke! I have been told I will be a Dr. or lawyer my whole life and my only relly bad grade each year in elementary school was my handwriting. Sometimes now I will even sign my name backwards just for fun or just scribble a little on the paper so I left a mark. They have tried comparing signatures on my writing but are always baffled at how horrible it is.

    I even have a friend that actually signs "I Stole This Card" on all of the electronic signatures. I find it funny but he has never been questioned…

  5. Mike Dimmick says:

    For ‘cardholder present’ transactions, we (in the UK) are now supposed to be using ‘Chip and PIN’. New cards, issued in the last couple of years, have a smartcard ‘chip’ on them. Instead of swiping the magnetic strip then signing a receipt, the cashier is meant to place the card in a chip-reading point, and you type your 4-digit PIN to authenticate.

    There’s a small flaw, however. Few people remember their PINs. I know the PINs for three out of four cards, but can’t recall my new credit card’s PIN.

    The result is that few retailers have actually implemented chip-and-PIN.

    I can confirm that banks don’t bother checking the signatures on cheques either. I had a cheque book stolen once, in the post from the bank to me. I didn’t know it was coming as it had been automatically issued, but I use cheques so infrequently that it was way too early – I think I still had 10 left. Anyway, it was only by noticing that the serial numbers were out of sequence on the next month’s statement that anything happened – by which point the thief had stolen £80. Once I’d reported it to the bank, they produced photocopies of the cheques. The signatures were nothing like mine.

  6. denny says:

    IMHO checks will soon be used only for very large transactions. to much hassle and withthe volume of them no way to "check" them as valid.

    and card sig. has the problem of is that the right sig. —

    as for people who can’t remember a 4 digit pin?

    WOW, so can they tell a cab driver the address they live at? can they phone home?

    not that ither of the numbers should be a pin… just heck anyone should be able to memorize 4 digits.

  7. Mike Dimmick says:

    I have no problem remembering numbers if I use them regularly enough. I work at an ISV where a major part of our business is developing networked mobile software, so I type WEP keys very regularly, and until we changed it recently I could type the office 128-bit WEP key (26 hex characters) from memory. I haven’t learned the new one yet.

    The problem is that I simply haven’t committed the new card’s PIN to memory, and this is the problem for most people with credit card PINs. They were informed of them when the card was issued, but it’s very likely they’ve never used it since. Many of them have probably either lost or destroyed the notification.

  8. Broke says:

    I have a shocking signature, that is never exactly the same twice.

    But what is really scary is that I reckon that half the time my credit card is back in my wallet before I’ve even picked up the pen.

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