No, I won’t show you my ID

Stores have been confusing me a lot lately. Despite many being concerned about ID theft, a lot of store have stopped having us sign for credit card purchases if it’s under a certain amount. In Starbucks you don’t have to sign if the purchase is less than $15. In Borders, less than $20. (These numbers may not be 100% accurate but they’re close. I’m working from memory here.) Since there’s nothing to sign, many of these merchants are asking to see your ID to prove you’re you in lieu of comparing your signature. (Yes, many others are making you sign, and asking to see ID. This annoys me even more.)

The other piece of background information involves these two stories (1 & 2) from It seems that according to the Visa merchant agreement, "merchants cannot refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID." Doing so may lead to said merchant loosing the ability to accept Visa cards. (Writing SEE ID on the back of your card, unless that is your signature, is not valid however, no matter what you think.) You can probably see where I’m going with this.

On Sunday I was in Borders and ordered a beverage and cookie in their coffee shop. I handed over my Visa card and the clerk asked to see my ID. (Before even starting to process the transaction to see if my purchase was approved.) Since I’d been wondering what would happen, and since this was the third Borders I’d been into that day (but that’s another story) I thought quickly enough to provide the following response: "No."

The clerk gave me a puzzled look. Obviously this wasn’t the response she was expecting. "Excuse me?" she responded. I repeated my answer and said that it was against the company’s agreement with Visa to require me to show ID as a requirement to complete my transaction. She wiggled her head a little and asked me to repeat myself. I politely explained again that they could not require me to show ID to complete my transaction according to their merchant agreement with Visa and added that "I would be happy to sign a slip so that she could compare my signature to the one on the back of the card." (Not remembering at the time that since my purchase was small that there would be no slip to sign.)

She flipped my card over and looked at my signature. I will admit that the card has seen better days and that the signature is a tad worn, but it is readable enough to compare to anything else I may sign. She then proceeded to show me the back of the card as if my worn signature was a problem. I stared back and continued to refuse to show my ID.

A pause, a sigh and a "whatever" later she ran my card through and completed my purchase. See, that wasn’t so hard, wasn’t it?

I got my coffee and my cookie ate them, then headed off to the front registers to pick up and pay for the book I had on hold. (My source of frustration and travel to three stores in one day.) In this case, the purchase was above the threshold for signing and I signed the slip presented to me. I was not asked for ID. Ironically, the signature on my card wasn’t compared to the one I’d just scribbled either.

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5 Replies to “No, I won’t show you my ID”

  1. Michael:
    It used to be that the credit card companies tried tgo makew retailers not show ID or ask for your phone number. Now they give a fee discount if you require your staff to ask for ID. I always feel like it’s South Africa during apartheid where I have to show ID in my own country. It’s the retailers looking for a discount and not considsering the impact on the customer. Idiots. I always refuse and have only left the purchase on the counter once.

  2. Umm. No.

    Every time a cashier asks to see your ID to confirm your identity, it protects your credit rating. You’re a lunatic to COMPLAIN about it.

  3. This is one of the times I disagree with you. Why? Many years ago (b4 you worked at BCR?), my company credit card number was stolen. The ensuing problems took over 4 months to clear up, but it included having my credit card refused at least once when I went to pay for lunch with a member (I, or rather BCR, was paying for the member’s lunch). At the end, about $50K worth of merchandise had been charged on my card, including trips to Paris and London. I had to spend time signing affidavits attesting that I hadn’t made the charges… Consequently, we asked the credit card company to require that I show ID whenever I tried to use BCR’s credit card. I still don’t mind and prefer to show my ID. Having had to deal with the hassle of a stolen credit card number, I now keep very close tabs on my personal credit cards.

  4. Uhh, rosario, what does your credit card number being stolen have to do with showing ID? They take your credit card number, make a card with it and their own name on the card, and use the card. They show their ID and you are charged.

    And, to the ghost, what does showing ID have to do with protecting your credit rating? Your credit card being stolen does not have any impact at all on your credit rating. However, showing ID can make it much easier for a store cashier, manager, or loss prevention/security official to gain all of the information on your ID and actually take your identity. Remember that all retail stores have security cameras that are recording each transaction with a very good zoom on the camera (they have to be able to zoom and see the different denominations of paper money for cash balancing issues). So every time you present that ID, not only does the cashier see it, but any other store employee (a manager or loss prevention person) can pull the survallance tape, pause it, and have a still image of your ID and all of the information on it. THIS is a very, very very serious risk of identity theft. In reality, showing your ID is what can potentially hurt your credit rating if the crooks that have access to the information on your ID decide to open accounts fraudulently which WILL go against your credit score.

    If your credit card is stolen and used, you are NOT LIABLE for any charges that are made. That is, of course, as long as the back of your card is signed. Those with unsigned and “See ID” cards are fully liable for any unauthorized charges.

    I strongly advise against showing ID with a credit card. Get some kind of ID with your name and photo only if you don’t feel like fighting with clerks (make one yourself that is a “work ID” and you will be amazed clerks will accept it with no problem and it takes seconds to make. A crook could make such an ID just as easily… again making the point of showing ID basically defeated.

  5. I just hand over my ID at the same time as my credit card. Easy peasy.

    I try not to make life any harder for the poor cashiers.

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