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March 23, 2005 10:28 AM   Subscribe

The Credit Card Prank Part 2 Not satisified with the results of an earlier experiment, John Hargave kicks it up a notch and tries to get someone, anyone, care about the signature on his credit card receipts.
posted by Robot Johnny (27 comments total)
ha! brilliant! who knew it would be circuit city that finally checked.
posted by Igor XA at 10:47 AM on March 23, 2005

Excellent...I especially liked the comment on the donut slingers's eye being glazed over...
posted by schyler523 at 10:55 AM on March 23, 2005

I had seen this linked from a few places in the last couple weeks, and I'm glad I finally got up the gusto to click on the damn link. Hilarious!
posted by Plutor at 11:04 AM on March 23, 2005

$41 to look at some fish???
posted by DieHipsterDie at 11:14 AM on March 23, 2005


(for the server that has been slashdotted, farked, and now metafiltered this week)
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 11:25 AM on March 23, 2005

That's pretty dumb. Unless he's making major purchase nobody would even begin to care about his signature. And for major purchases the card company will call him.
posted by nixerman at 11:48 AM on March 23, 2005

One wonders if the poor Circuit City clerk at the end went out back and shot himself. That must've been his worst day ever.
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:51 AM on March 23, 2005

Most excellent. I wish the Best Buy manager ran his card for $300k.

I wonder if Circuit City called his CC company and reported it as stolen?
posted by Four Flavors at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2005

Well, on the other hand.

Bragging about the fact that you can get away with writing down a different name from the signature on the back of your card, is like bragging about how you can defeat a hook-and-eye on a door with a screwdriver.

Signatures are just a formality. They don't add much in the way of security.

On the other hand, security at point of sale is terribly lax. I don't have a signature on the back of my credit card. This should force the clerk to ask for photo ID, but most don't. To some degree I can understand this. Clerks are poorly equiped to deal with credit-card fraud, and it is easier to just let the lender either bite the bullet or persue the investigation.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:12 PM on March 23, 2005

Suits lie.

posted by jaronson at 12:13 PM on March 23, 2005

Clerks have disincentive to check signatures because it slows down the line a lot and their immediate supervisors will gripe about it.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:14 PM on March 23, 2005

Clerks have disincentive to check signatures because it slows down the line a lot and their immediate supervisors will gripe about it.

Perhaps more importantly, clerks are simply not qualified to make much more than the basic and most superficial comparisons between two signatures. The appearance of my signature changes by quite a bit depending on angle, type of pen, type of paper, and my emotional state. About all a person can do with a quick glance is note that there is a big K and a big S, and probably something that might be a big J in between (depending on how much space there is for a signature.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:30 PM on March 23, 2005

AFter reading the first two pages, I was thinking "This is cute, but the original was so much funnier - this one is just elaborating on one of the jokes ("I stole this card") from the first time." But once he got to best buy & circuit city, I have to admit I was pretty impressed, and had to stifle laughter (sitting in a cafe).
posted by mdn at 12:34 PM on March 23, 2005

Most retailers have adopted a policy not of NOT checking signatures. (Well, Target has.) If the customer gets irate, then we'll check it, but we have no signature-verifying experience. Plus, if it's a stolen card, it's Visa's responsibility, not the retailers.
posted by graventy at 2:08 PM on March 23, 2005

Clerks have disincentive to check signatures because it slows down the line a lot and their immediate supervisors will gripe about it.

At the Wal*Mart I'm sitting in, I've got a fine view of the two registers that they always put new hires on to train with the more seasoned cashiers. One of them actually told the newbie "Just look at the check to make sure there's something in the signature spot. They could sign it 'Santa Claus' and as long as you looked at the check your ass is covered."

Just this week I heard a customer ask the cashier if they needed to see ID for the credit card she was using, and the cashier said "we only ask to see ID if the register asks for it." There's one cashier here who I know compares signatures and checks ID for everyone who has signed their card with "see ID" as well as warn people of the dangers of not signing the cards, but she's also the one who made the statement above regarding the signatures on checks.
posted by chickygrrl at 2:18 PM on March 23, 2005

Kudos to the author for showing what a sham credit card security is. I am a merchant who's done thousands of transactions, and a few years ago I began seeing a few cards that were clearly stolen. I called Visa and basically the response I got is they didn't give a damn. So I guess I don't give a damn either, as the processors don't give smaller merchants the right tools to verify credit cards (AVS is a joke) and fault us for any fraud charges that slip through. They're all a bunch of bastards but unfortunately I have to play in the mud with them to pay the bills.
posted by rolypolyman at 3:12 PM on March 23, 2005

As far as signatures go, when I was hired for seasonal at Shopko I was told to not bother checking the signature. On the CC counter swipe thing, it would pop up and say "Please show cashier your card," and we'd always be say "nah, we don't really need to see it."
posted by Amanda B at 4:34 PM on March 23, 2005

Credit card signatures are on their way out. The next generation of credit/debit cards will work like the Mobil Speedpass. You scan it at the point of sale, authorization takes place, and you're out the door.
posted by 27 at 5:00 PM on March 23, 2005

Credit card companies don't give a damn because they are one of the most profitable industries in the United States at the moment. They can swallow the occasional fraud, use it as an excuse to jack up interest rates if your payment is credited at 1:30 pm rather than 1:00 pm on the first of the month.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:44 PM on March 23, 2005

I'm glad I finally got to read part two, which had been farked for a while. However -

Last week, I had to have some unexpected repair done to our car - it was losing power and the check engine light came on, so I pulled into the first gas station I saw. Fortunately, it was an Exxon, which I have a credit card for, although it had never been used for more than a couple fill-ups a month - $30-$40 charges a month, tops. Sure enough, the fuel injection needed to be cleaned out and worked on, computer diagnostics, yadda-yadda, the whole repair to get back on the road cost $400, which I put on the card.

I was actually very pleasantly surprised when Exxon/Mobil called me at home that night to verify that I had, in fact, authorized a transaction that was so clearly out of our usual pattern of usage. Maybe there's hope for the industry yet.
posted by yhbc at 8:53 PM on March 23, 2005

I don't understand this thing about not checking signatures on credit cards. I mean, maybe I'm wrong but doesn't it state on the terms and conditions that a card without a valid signature is technically void? At least it does in this part of the world. In every instance, if the signature doesn't match, then bye bye. Even if it's just for a small purchase.

In fact, when I was working in retail all employees were warned by the store's loss prevention team to check each and every signature scrupulously (I usually just read them upsidedown as they were being written, but if I saw something odd I'd call them on it).

I have to say I was always amused by Americans (always Americans, I'm sorry it's true) who would try to pay with an unsigned card, or their parents' card or something. Whenever I'd point out that they needed a valid signature, or needed the cardholder present to sign, they'd turn beet red, start huffing and puffing, and storm away grumbling about bad customer service! Hey, I was only trying to protect you from fraud, buddy!

I really don't understand this lackadaisical attitude to financial matters you guys have over there. (I mean, what's the deal with the pre-approved credit card offers? You need to pledge your firstborn to get a credit card here!) But if you've ever tried to open a bank account in the UK or Ireland, you might have an understanding of where I'm coming from.
posted by macdara at 1:19 AM on March 24, 2005

Have you lot not heard of chip and pin?

It's a much better system generally. Not for me, because I regularly forget/lose my pin.
posted by Summer at 2:59 AM on March 24, 2005

To follow on from Summer, we in the UK are currently moving away from signatures to typing in your PIN at the checkout. The funny thing is, the French have had this for years- I used to work there and a French lady I knew once showed me her American credit card, incredulous that it didn't have a chip and the signature was just written on by the person who got the card through the post!
posted by flameproof at 3:38 AM on March 24, 2005

Hah, I just noticed that the perp has up a big ad to get credit cards. This isn't a Google ad thing, but an actual "affiliate" thing.
posted by Grand Wahzoo at 4:49 AM on March 24, 2005

That sounds like a great system, Summer. There should be a movement towards requiring a PIN for credit card transactions, like we do now with all debit card purchases. Forget about the signature.
posted by KerPow at 7:25 AM on March 24, 2005

Chip and PIN is becoming more common in Ireland as well as the UK, though the big credit card companies only started the roll-out of chip-enabled cards last year.

I remember being in Belgium a few years ago, in awe at their self-service points everywhere from cinema multiplexes to small local shops, and wishing it was that easy here too. We're almost there, but not quite.

I've always been fond of the idea of a cashless society myself -- as in, using a smart card that I can load credit onto from an ATM and carrying that around instead of a wallet full of notes and a pocket full of coins. Pros? No more loose change. Cons? No more loose change is bad news for charity collectors and panhandlers.
posted by macdara at 8:06 AM on March 24, 2005

yhbc - I've had both Shell and Chevron do the same sort of thing. I wonder if they do it because they are financing their own service/product.
posted by deborah at 9:54 AM on March 24, 2005

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