Goofing with Credit Cards
June 3, 2003 9:15 AM   Subscribe

The Credit Card Prank is a project to see how far one could go with their signature on credit card purchases. The experiment goes pretty far and barely runs into any snags. The verdict? People don't seem to care what you sign on a receipt.
posted by mathowie (72 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Having been a retail clerk, it's true, we don't care. Folks' penmanship is for shit anyway.
posted by mookieproof at 9:20 AM on June 3, 2003

I have to run credit cards at a small pediatrics clinic. More than half the cards are not even signed.

We don't even care about that.
posted by justgary at 9:22 AM on June 3, 2003

I always ask for an ID if I'm taking a credit card, especially if it's unsigned.

Most people actually thank me. Many times over.
posted by dopamine at 9:24 AM on June 3, 2003

I have two friends that put "Check I.D." on the back of their credit cards and still only get checked about 50% of the time.
posted by thatothrgirl at 9:25 AM on June 3, 2003

"I stole this card" - that's excellent, beyond the level of mere pranking. It has a certain "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" quality, y'know?

Anyway, [this is good]. Whoever this guy mathowie is, I hope he gets to post more stuff.
posted by soyjoy at 9:28 AM on June 3, 2003

I've been signing my receipts "Mojo Jojo" for a few months now and it's true -- no one seems to care, especially if you obscure the sig with bad scribbly handwriting.
posted by moonbiter at 9:28 AM on June 3, 2003

just the other day, I was in a restaurant in Cozumel of all places. my buddy signed my receipt for me while I was in the bathroom, and the waitstaff flipped out over the signatures not matching. definite first.
posted by badstone at 9:29 AM on June 3, 2003

Even more worrying, this guy keeps using his credit card to tip! It's definitely a bad idea in Europe, so I presume it's a bad idea in the US too?
posted by ascullion at 9:30 AM on June 3, 2003

My coworker tells me the signature is only checked if there's a dispute over an item on the credit card bill. Is he right?
posted by Succa at 9:31 AM on June 3, 2003

My family name is Morris. My mother was sent a bank card under the name Morns, which she used for 6 months until it was pointed out to her. (No, she hadn't noticed either.)

Anyway, funny as this page is, I think Succa's friend is right. It would be interesting to try this experiment with a debit card to see if there is any difference.
posted by salmacis at 9:35 AM on June 3, 2003

When I was a waiter, I once questioned a customer because he had left his signature line blank. Without irony, he informed me that if he signed it, anyone could forge his signature.

posted by stonerose at 9:35 AM on June 3, 2003

I love the idea of signing the slip with "please check ID!" I put that on the back of my cards already and of course no one ever does.

I'd start doing putting it on the slips, but I'm super lazy and can usually only manage the barest minimum of a squiggly line. Somebody should do up some stickers that read "Please Check ID", then instead of signing you could just slap one of those on the line everytime.
posted by willnot at 9:36 AM on June 3, 2003

I always ask for an ID if I'm taking a credit card, especially if it's unsigned.

We would never have time and when dealing with moms with sick, crying children there would be no appreciation. They complain about all and any delays. In a retail situation sure, but in a hospital situation no way.

(not to mention most people don't steal credit cards to spend money at the doctor's office)

I have two friends that put "Check I.D." on the back of their credit cards and still only get checked about 50% of the time.

My wife has done this for years and she can remember it working once. She now just signs her cards.

While we were engaged we would use each others cards. Sometimes I'd sign my name to her card, sometimes I'd sign her name, and she'd do the same with mine.

It never made a difference.
posted by justgary at 9:41 AM on June 3, 2003

wow, ascullion, I had no idea it was like that in Europe. In the States, many places I've seen either have the server's name on the receipt and pay the servers at the end of the night, or pay them directly when the server brings the receipt up to the counter.
posted by notsnot at 9:45 AM on June 3, 2003

I have often signed as Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck (legibly) with no questions asked by the cashier or my bank. I guess nobody cares as long as there is a signature.
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 9:47 AM on June 3, 2003

My main credit card has my picture on the back. It is very common for clerks to notice this, and then compare the photo to me before processing the transaction.

On the other end of the spectrum: the mother of a friend of mine received a call from her local bank: "Ms. Meehan, we noticed that you neglected to sign the $5,000 check you recently gave to so-and-so. We're calling to let you know that we have processed this check to save you the inconvenience of sending him another one." They were shocked when she didn't respond well to hearing this!
posted by alms at 9:48 AM on June 3, 2003

Once I went to check into a hotel and the girl checked the back of the card and said it wasn't signed. I signed it there in front of her, and she checked it with the register receipt I also signed in front of her. THANK GOD THEY MATCHED!

That has happened to me too! I think it's sort of quaint that your signature is still supposed to mean so much in this day and age. I just initialed about 754 pages of real estate contracts...why?
posted by JoanArkham at 9:54 AM on June 3, 2003

A friend of mine in college was dating a guy that would just sign a concentric looping circle on his receipts. He never got any crap for it.

I do find though that appearance has a lot to do with it. My freshman year my parents gave me a credit card for "emergencies" that was a Platinum. My dad wrote "Please Check ID" on the back, and with my dashing youthful looks, clerks would more often look at the back and do so.

My debit card has my picture on it and I still got asked for an ID once. I thought it was really strange as the picture is only about a year old and I look pretty much the same.

This was a great link though. I hope he does an update if anything happens as a result.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:54 AM on June 3, 2003

sometimes I sign my receipts, "Chokey Malone."
posted by mcsweetie at 9:54 AM on June 3, 2003

When I learned how to write my name in Katakana, I took to signing everything that way, including credit and debit card slips. Then a Starbuck's barista (!) called me a showoff (!!). That put an end to that. (Turned out I was signing it wrong, I was substituting "to" for "I" (pronounced "E")...but apparently they don't teach that at Starbuck's University)
posted by vito90 at 9:59 AM on June 3, 2003

Even more worrying, this guy keeps using his credit card to tip!

How else would you do it? isn't the whole point of the card that you don't have to worry about carrying cash around? If I have to make sure I have enough cash to pay for a tip, I might as well just stuff a bunch of twenties into my wallet and pay the whole thing in cash. It all comes out of the same bank account anyway.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:09 AM on June 3, 2003

Isnt' that illegal? Aren't they supposed to match or the purchase can't be tied to you? Anyone know the rules on that?

(I have "please check id" on the back of my card, and am only checked about 50% of the time. It pisses me off.)
posted by aacheson at 10:20 AM on June 3, 2003

It pains me when the actually CHECK the, if i were in a drug store, the clerk will take my card, look at it...and then to return it to me, she/he will *slap* the card, magnetic strip down, onto the counter, and sliiiiiiiddddde it over to me...while I stand there cringing as the precious magnetic strip is raked unceremoniously across the counter.

I've never actually had a card rendered non-functional because of this, but it's a (probably unfounded) fear of mine.
posted by tpl1212 at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2003

I've had the same experience as JoanArkham...but in general, I get asked for ID or the signature gets compared maybe three times a year.
posted by Vidiot at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2003

Mars, if you read the link, you'll see that in Europe, employers can consider any tips that go through the credit card bill to be part of the staff's wages, not a bonus, so, the only way to be sure the money goes to the waiter is to leave a cash tip.

And I'm pretty sure the point of the card is to encourage you to owe people money, and keep the economy ticking over when you otherwise wouldn't be spending..
posted by ascullion at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2003

If I'm pissed off with bad service, long check out queues, vanishing wait staff, high school clerks who know nothing about the product, crummy pen with a huge plastic spoon taped to the end - in fact if I'm pissed off with just about anything in my shopping experience - I generally just scrawl a random wavy line that sort of tapers off. It's the signature version of 'bleh' ... nobody's ever said anything (*touches wood*). I hate shopping anyway ;)
posted by carter at 10:36 AM on June 3, 2003

I used to work at a supermarket checkout for a while, and one time I got this fella signing his CC receipt, and the signature looked absolutely nothing like the one on the card.
I called over my supervisor to check it, hoping she would take it away and do a telephone check. She just glanced at it uninterestedly, and handed it back.

I felt I'd done everything I could (we'd been given no guidelines on how to deal with this sort of thing) and accepted his payment.

Another time I walked into a store and paid by debit card. Signed the reciept, and was quite affronted by the way the cashier held the card and reciept up high, infront of his face, to see if it matched. I'd been going to the store for years, and was on speaking terms with the manageress (who was the cashier's girlfriend.)

There's a way to check these things discreetly, without making the customer feel like a fraud suspect, which is just bad human relations and insensitive.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:43 AM on June 3, 2003

As if any cashier I've encountered in the last year is qualified in handwriting recognition anyway.
posted by ilsa at 10:55 AM on June 3, 2003

According to signs I recently saw posted in the post office, stores are not supposed to accept cards that have "See ID" and no signature in the signature block.
posted by kindall at 11:06 AM on June 3, 2003

It's all about fraud liability.
When you activate, or begin using your card you enter into a cardholder agreement with the card issuer. One of the terms of the agreement is that the issuer will assume some or all of the liability for fraudulent use of the card... IF you sign the back of the card. If you haven't signed the back, the issuer can hold you liable for loss due to fraud.
There is a similar agreement between merchants and the card issuers. If merchants compare signatures and find them to match, the issuer assumes fraud liability. If they don't match the merchant is on the hook.
If you leave your card unsigned, and someone else signs it before using the card to make a fraudulent purchase liability passes from the merchant to the issuer to the mook how didn't sign the card.

Time was, merchants were required to refuse unsigned cards by their agreements with the issuers, but violated this to please customers. Decreasing retail margins ultimately made this level of exposure untenable for merchants. Finally, the large electronics retailer I once worked for, along with other companies got visa/mc to formalize the check id option. This was no more than 10 years ago.
posted by putzface_dickman at 11:14 AM on June 3, 2003

Back in the days when my folks used checks for most everything, my dad used to enjoy fucking with the clerks.

I don't know why they did this, but they always insisted on asking for much more info than was printed on the check itself. A home phone number, a drivers' license number. Presumably, bad checks are the merchant's problem, whereas bad credit card charges are the CC company's problem. Ergo, merchants used to be very careful with checks. Now they mostly don't accept them.

Anyway, my dad would rattle off some bullshit phone number, and then say "Ha! I gave you the wrong phone number! This is a very bad system you have."

And I would cringe and pray for death.
posted by scarabic at 11:18 AM on June 3, 2003

That link is hilarious, but I was also wondering about those who write "See ID." Have you been refused at certain stores? Credit card companies and credit unions have taken to addressing the "See ID" issue on their sites and telling cardholders not to do that.

There's an interesting discussion of the issue on this journal.

Also, this Toys R Us cashier's experience with a person who just didn't understand the "see ID" part of "see ID" is pretty funny. (Warning: Geocities, and it asks if you want to install that stupid Comet Cursor.)
posted by GaelFC at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2003

I get ID-checked when I'm in someplace that's apparently been burned with a lot of stolen credit cards. One of them, interestingly, is my college bookstore, whose clientele includes many students with an overly casual attitude about things like law enforcement and honesty.

My wife and I have signed each other's cards in restaurants for I don't know how many years now. Never a peep from any cashiers or wait staff.
posted by alumshubby at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2003

Lately, especially in places like supermarkets and Costco, the cashiers can't even compare the signatures since they never take possesion of the card! Easier on them to have the customer do the swiping, I suppose, but one does wonder about the effect on fraud.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:33 AM on June 3, 2003

Zug! John Hargrave's humor site has been around since 1995, but stagnated for a while. Good to see that it's getting some linky action again.
posted by waxpancake at 11:33 AM on June 3, 2003

Heh. Am I the only one who has problems with his CC?

I regularally get grief at Waitrose (semi posh food shop - just happens to be the closest to us) because my signature is wrong.

Basically, my sig is huge. The strip is small. I managed to shrink it for the card...
posted by twine42 at 11:43 AM on June 3, 2003

You know, that whole thing about "only the credit card companies get screwed" mentioned in the article is bullshit. The credit card companies just take the money back from the merchants the vast majority of the time.

I run a small service business, and when someone used a stolen card to pay for our work a few months ago, we were just out the work we'd done -- no matter that we'd followed all the security procedures set up by the card companies. For small businesses, it can be a real kick in the teeth.
posted by blissbat at 11:43 AM on June 3, 2003

I don't know why I didn't mention this before, but, in the UK, soon, we won't have to sign for purcheses with dredit cards, as there'll be a reader you put the card into, and then enter a PIN, instead.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:45 AM on June 3, 2003

I once actually got asked for an ID. I was at a Walgreens in north Oakland, buying some soap or something -- $4, I think. My signature matched, but the guy -- some kid, he was probably 17 -- was like, I need to see a photo ID. I looked at him, like, uh? For $4? I think I even tried to say, They don't ask for my ID at Walgreens in San Francisco. But he wouldn't have any of it. And, of course, as it happened, I had no photo ID -- I'd lost my wallet a short while earlier, and still needed to get a new driver's license. D'oh.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:48 AM on June 3, 2003

I don't know why I didn't mention this before, but, in the UK, soon, we won't have to sign for purcheses with dredit cards, as there'll be a reader you put the card into, and then enter a PIN, instead.

This is already fairly common in Europe - as I was reminded on Friday when I tried to pay for some shirts in Milan and then went completely blank as to what my PIN is.
posted by biffa at 11:55 AM on June 3, 2003

On the table-waiting note: in case you're not aware, many restaraunt owners take the CC surcharge (2% or something?) out of their servers' tips. So if you want the server to get the full tip, pay in cash.
posted by gramcracker at 12:14 PM on June 3, 2003

I was in a restaurant in Cozumel of all places. my buddy signed my receipt for me while I was in the bathroom, and the waitstaff flipped out over the signatures not matching. definite first.

Worked Merchandise, started back in the day when you looked up a card in a book if a purchase was over 50$. Those old carbon copies you filled by hand, arrggg.

Ever had your card cut up? Have been asked many times by American Express to ask for the card back and cut it up with them watching because the card holder using it was not the signature holder, usually it was a spouse too.

Worked at an Amusement park and often when folks where on vacation while obtaining an approval code asked to call the card companies center because of all the out of state activity.

American Express is very strict about this, it's the agreement they make with the merchant and can pull the merchant privilege or even accepting the credit.
MC/Visa, they claim, their location of all cards they know at all times. The magnetic strip does more than feed info, it also accepts info back which tracks you. As a kid remember having to have a note from mom so I could use a credit card when it was done manually.

So anyone may use your MC/Visa card, if the store permits.
American Express has an agreement with the merchant to follow its policy by the book. No I never cut up a card nor made a fuss over a signature; hard to be a criminal with surrounding fences at an Amusement Park and security at every gate.
PS, those recipes back in the day if you gave the wrong carbon copy out, it was free to the card holder in my store, usually a rookie mistake. Today they save the original white copy at the merchants location just incase a problem occurs. So no one at the card company sees it. This was all in the 80's & early 90's doubt much has changed..

Is it still a law in California that you may not ask for a credit card for ID-ing a check, but it may be used for one, just not required?
posted by thomcatspike at 12:19 PM on June 3, 2003

as there'll be a reader you put the card into, and then enter a PIN, instead.

Wanted to mention this, but way too long above...Best solution for theft, but then the insurance companies are out of the loop.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:21 PM on June 3, 2003

Actually, it's fairly common that I not even be handed a signature slip with some smaller CC transactions--like for food or drive-thru window purchases. They just swipe and say thank you.

I'm wondering how that works.

As a side note, I recieved a new card from Bank of America a few weeks ago in the form of a cute little mini-Visa that attaches to my keychain (which now has more loyalty/membership cards than keys these days.) I find it funny when clerks who haven't seen these yet don't think they're real, but they'll take it anyways.
posted by FearTormento at 12:30 PM on June 3, 2003

Anybody here every used a credit card online? It's like they don't care about the signature AT ALL!

With so much CC processing done online, it's kind of quaint that people check sigs in real life. I guess it's because they can (although most don't).
posted by luser at 12:47 PM on June 3, 2003

Well, funny you should say that, luser, but in online transactions I sometimes get asked for the last of three digits printed in wobbly dot matrix numbers across of the top of my sig strip on the back of the card. They seem to be some kind of sig number for the card. I don't know if this is just my cc or is on others' cards too ...
posted by carter at 1:44 PM on June 3, 2003

Ah, a classic. A variant, perhaps, on the annual "expose" done by newsmagazines on how no one reads old-fashioned checks anymore.

They gleefully post pictures of the actual, cleared, bank-honored checks, even when they're clearly ripped up and taped back together, or are made out to "DON'T PAY ME," or signed "Santa Claus," or have the address, "White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW."
posted by pzarquon at 2:08 PM on June 3, 2003

Anybody here every used a credit card online? It's like they don't care about the signature AT ALL!

While they don't have a signature for you, what it ends up meaning is that they assume the burden of proof of proving a claim against them is false. Basically, the credit card company will assume that if you claim that the charge is false then you're telling the truth, and they have to prove otherwise. Whereas with the signed receipts, the burden of proof is on you to prove the faked transaction. (It's one reason why a lot of online vendors will only ship to the billing address of the card).
posted by piper28 at 2:35 PM on June 3, 2003

I went to a record store in fact the one in Sacramento that was named after the Movie Palace of the same name across the street. I bought a CD, used my card, and after the Clerk was done swiping it, she set it on top to the Anti-Theft device demag pad. On top of the warning that say "DO NOT PUT CREDIT CARDS HERE" in huge letters. So of course the card was wiped, and I was basically useless until I got a new one in the mail.
posted by Badgermann at 2:53 PM on June 3, 2003

At Costco, they have your Costco card, with picture right in front of them when you swipe, although the name has to match the one on the card, i think. Otherwise, they have the purchase linked to you membership anyways, so if it is fraudulent, they will nail you the next time you flash your membership card.

It is the same reason they don't check IDs when you write a check, except to make sure that the name on the check matches the card. I got stuck behind some guy who was using a check from his business, and it was a complete hassle becasue it didn't have his name on it. They told him he could use those checks once he came in with his business license. Although I think if he was a "Business member" that would have been on the card as well.
posted by Badgermann at 3:10 PM on June 3, 2003

Mine gets checked maybe once in every 20 or 30 purchases. A couple of years ago, I walked into a store and bought a notebook and a digital camcorder, plus accessories for a total of just over $11,000 - with my boss's credit card. The salesperson did not even blink, despite the fact that I was wearing a nametag that should have made it obvious that the card was not mine and that the signature on the card was nothing like the one on the slip (he did not even check it). Then you hear retailers complain about the cost of credit card fraud!
posted by dg at 3:23 PM on June 3, 2003

I don't know why I didn't mention this before, but, in the UK, soon, we won't have to sign for purcheses with dredit cards, as there'll be a reader you put the card into, and then enter a PIN, instead.

This is already fairly common in Europe - as I was reminded on Friday when I tried to pay for some shirts in Milan and then went completely blank as to what my PIN is.

Debit cards aren't as popular in the US, but you can get them, and use them with a reader and PIN pad at most supermarkets, petrol stations, and larger shops. I use mine all the time.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:41 PM on June 3, 2003

Mmm, to clarify, they work anywhere that takes the backer (visa or mastercard), but a lot of places let you use a PIN instead.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:42 PM on June 3, 2003

I've been using my boyfriend's combination debit/credit card for months now (with his permission, of course), and not once has anyone batted an eyelash at it. Not even when I used the one with the photo of him on it ... or if I forget and sign my name and not his.

The first time I ever used it, I was VERY nervous about it and sure enough they asked me for ID ... probably because I LOOKED guilty (I felt guilty). After that though, I discovered that at that grocery store, instead of using it as a credit card, all I had to do was use it as a debit card, swipe it myself and enter the pin and no one said anything.

When I worked in retail, I was very meticulous about looking at the signatures, and if it looked funky, I would tell the customer that I had to call it in for whatever reason (or sometimes I would ask for ID). Of course, I was the cash office administrator at the time, so I was the one who had to deal with the end results of fraudulent cards and such, so I was more careful about it. I'm very certain that the regular floor cashiers rarely paid any attention to it at all as evidenced by the number of unsigned slips I always found in their drawers, if I found the slips at all. No slip at all meant the customer got free merchandise (and the cashier got written up). An unsigned slip meant that if the customer knew they hadn't signed it, they could tell their credit card company they hadn't made that charge, and once again ... free merchandise to the clever customer.
posted by Orb at 6:00 PM on June 3, 2003

I live in the states, but for years I've been signing my checks and CC slips in Hebrew. Nobody ever said a thing.
posted by CountZero at 6:00 PM on June 3, 2003

Ever had your card cut up? Have been asked many times by American Express to ask for the card back and cut it up with them watching ...
No, but I once had to retain a card as it was listed as cancelled and send it back to the bank. I got a $50 cheque from the bank in the mail a few weeks later as a reward for recovering a "problem" card - you can bet I checked every card from then on, but never got another one :-(

It always amazes me to hear that shops in the US take cheques as a matter of course, where asking to pay by cheque here in Australia is seen as akin to asking to sleep with the Manager's wife (or husband, or both). Anyone here who does not accept EFTPOS, including taxis and other mobile businesses, would be out of business in the blink of an eye.
posted by dg at 6:23 PM on June 3, 2003

inpHilltr8r has it exactly right - debit cards are not nearly as common in the US and it has a lot to do with the history of the industry on the continent. There's a really good book about this (of course) called Paying with plastic. The authors have also been keeping the information up to date since publication on their own website.
posted by whatzit at 7:15 PM on June 3, 2003

I've only ever been questioned about my signature once. The young woman at the checkout in Best Buy compared my (scrawled in a hurry) scribble on the slip with my card and announced in an unpleasantly accusatory and loud voice, "This isn't you!", whilst waving my card in my face. Somewhat surprised, I replied in my best irritated-consumer-on-a-hot-afternoon snippy voice, "Yes it is." She shrugged and processed the transaction with no further comment. I try to avoid Best Buy now, but I know what to do if ever I want to use a stolen credit card, at least.
posted by normy at 8:06 PM on June 3, 2003

One time, my boss sent me to Barnes & Noble with his credit card to buy a bunch of computer books. I walked up to the counter with a sizable stack of books and the clerk ran the transaction through... compared the signatures... and said "This isn't your card?"

"No, it's my boss's card, he sent me here to buy some books."

"Well, I guess I'll have to take your word for it." Gives me my receipt, wishes me a nice day.

posted by kindall at 8:18 PM on June 3, 2003

I been working as a cashier for 5 years.

I never check signatures on the back of the card. Why? Our company doesn't tell us to. So I don't.

I always see people who use other people's credit cards-their name pops up after you sign. And you can always tell when its a male name with a female user, vice versa.

Once I joked about to a guy about the name on the card "Kim" turned out it really was his name. Whoops!

I've declined a card in my line once.

There was a kid in my line that said to a bagger on another lane: "I have my mom's credit card and she doesn't know it." I said to him, "How can you expect me to take it after you just said that RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME?" He left with nothing...

When I sign at my store, I don't sign. I just make a straight line and his the complete button. Saves me about 30 seconds everyday :)
posted by andryeevna at 9:47 PM on June 3, 2003

And you can always tell when its a male name with a female user, vice versa.
See, that's where I am lucky. My boyfriend's name is Linnie ... which well, isn't immediately recognizable as a male name. :D
posted by Orb at 12:03 AM on June 4, 2003

Can I congratulate MeFi on not using the phrase "PIN Number" anywhere in this thread?

Yes, I know...
posted by twine42 at 12:27 AM on June 4, 2003

Just in case anyone was wondering, EFTPOS is antipodean for 'Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale.' Pronounced 'eft-poss'. One of my favorite aussie-isms, if only because it's so ubiquitous while also being so damn clumsy and ineuphonious.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:55 AM on June 4, 2003

Hey, we use EFTPOS in the UK too. It's one of the few acronyms I can remember from studying Computing at school.
posted by ascullion at 2:54 AM on June 4, 2003

Yeah, I'm sure glad to be free of that stupid acronym. Here in the UK it's 'Switch' - so, so much better.

(On preview - c'mon, ascullion. Everybody here calls it 'Switch'. EFTPOS in Australia isn't just an obscure acronym you learn at school, it's everywhere - it's the formal term for switch/debit transactions. Every checkout has an 'e' logo. And people do actually say it as a word, which I've never heard in the uK. BTW, Kiwis call it 'eftpos' too.)
posted by rory at 3:04 AM on June 4, 2003

That three digit thing on the back of the card is called a CCV or a Credit Card Validation number. It's just three more numbers to add to the security. The good thing about it is that it doesn't appear on receipts - so if someone has nabbed your card number from a receipt or another piece of paperwork, it won't have the CCV on it.

I find it increasingly common when buying online to be asked for the CCV. I have no idea what use it is offline...

I find the whole signature thing so lax in the States... in the UK, it's much more strict. I've decline transactions in the past when working at the Virgin Megastore from people whose signatures didn't match, or who hadn't signed their card - unless they could come up with better ID.

But my biggest claim to fame ever is cutting up John Lydon's (Johnny Rotten) gold VISA card in front of him. Oh, the ironic joy of it... he even got on the phone to the credit card company right there in the store and screamed at them about it. He just hadn't bothered paying his bills for a year, and I heard the person on the other end mentioning something about £87,000 owing...
posted by humuhumu at 4:38 AM on June 4, 2003

OMG, humuhumu did you get to keep the pieces???
posted by JoanArkham at 5:29 AM on June 4, 2003

I sign my credit cards with my name in Chinese characters, which confuses people because I'm a white guy. If they question me, I show them my Chinese passport.
posted by Poagao at 9:03 AM on June 4, 2003

Here in Hong Kong, almost every place I go checks to ensure the signature matches.

In the future, though, sigs won't matter. Thumbprint scan-match technology can't be far off.

Wanna use the card? Then your thumbprint had better match the one stored digitally on the card. Either that or you'll have to hack the thumb off the guy whose wallet you just lifted.
posted by bwg at 9:18 AM on June 4, 2003

I sign my credit card slips "Matt Haughey."
posted by at 10:34 AM on June 4, 2003

dg, glad to hear you received your reward, only have heard of a very few whom did. The main office usually accepts it instead.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:06 AM on June 5, 2003

Count me in among the retail clerks who don't give a crap. Fortunately I'm not a retail clerk anymore. My own check card is unsigned, and sometimes clerks will make me sign it in front of them; it invariably wears off within a couple of days.
posted by etoile at 5:06 AM on June 6, 2003

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