The ‘signs’ of changing times…
Do you use your debit/credit card? To shop? By showing it over the counter? At a grocery store? At a supermarket? A retail outlet in a mall? In another of those ‘swipe’ procedures? Duh!
Wondering why I’m asking these silly questions? Tell me, how many times have the cashiers verified your signature on the slip (to the one at the back of the card)? Or even check if it’s signed, in the first place? Wait… let’s make that how many times have the cashiers bothered to wait for you to really sign, before they hurriedly handed over the slip and your cover(s)? How many times have you quickly motioned to put the card back in it’s place (your wallet/purse) with the cashiers prompting you to wait for verification before you did so? I bet that it’s almost zero.
Upon Googling I saw this rather elaborate document called ‘Rules for Merchants’ by Visa (though a slightly older one). Check pages 28, 29. The implications of having no signature, difference in signatures and writing ‘See ID’/‘Ask for ID’ have been mentioned. This last one is apparently popular (though not legal) in the US of A, where people are scared of putting in their original signatures, so that the owner may show a valid ID as proof (to prove authenticity). More on that.
There is this story mentioned in the link above.
For example, Lynn McMonigal never signs her credit cards. Instead, she just writes "See ID" on the signature panel on the back of the card. It's a habit dating back to 1994, when one of her college friends did an experiment involving credit cards. She borrowed her roommate, Jennifer's, card and went shopping -- with Jennifer's permission. At every store, she signed her own name, Paula, even though she used a card with Jennifer's name on it. She went to six places. Only two of them even asked for ID. One saw Paula's ID and still allowed her to make the purchase. The other didn't let her buy anything. "I figured if no one was checking anyway, what really would be the point of signing my cards anyway?"
The case is no different here, I guess.
(In case you’re wondering, this incident prompted me to think more about it. And of course, every time I shop too.)
And while we’re at it, let me add, it’s also wise to check your monthly bank statements (online) and ensure that you’re paying for your purchases only (i.e. no errors for such debit card transactions).