Why arent signatures for credit card transactions ever checked?

This is why it has been so easy for criminals to commit credit card fraud. The signature that everyone asks for is never checked. This is why crooks can make fake cards and rack up charges on them. Why not check the signature in case it’s fake?

Because checking signatures is time consuming and error prone. People are not good at having a consistent signature and retail employees are not good at comparing signatures. Credit card fraud is really not that big an expense compared to the expenses involved in mistakenly turning down legitimate business.

The US should join the modern world and use chip and pin. Checking the pin is much easier with pretty much no false positives

I’m guessing because the person doing the checking has absolutely no qualifications to compare signatures.


When it comes to credit card fraud it’s almost always a real card.

That’s only if you have to sign in the first place. Many places don’t require a signature at all if the total is under a certain amount, usually $50.


And a lot of fraud involves online and other card not present transactions. So requiring the store clerk to compare signatures will only help in a very few cases.

On the back of my credit cards, in the area where the signature is supposed to go, I’ve hand written “Ask for ID” and I have never had a problem with that. The cashier should always be checking my ID to see if my name matches what is on the card, but they rarely do. It only takes a few seconds.

I used to work in an amusement park, selling a high volume of cheap products (cartoon portraits with frames). If we got three or four bad cards a day, it’s just cheaper to let 'em go than to pursue all crime with unrelenting vigor.

The store is willing to avoid the small chance of fraud in favor of saving money by not increasing every transaction time significantly with thorough checks. Unless you are putting thousands of dollars on a card, most of the transactions mentioned are probably small enough that the store is willing to take the risk.

Lots of credit card fraud involves no physical card. Again, criminals who are actually good at it might make more money with a fake card at Best Buy, but the risk is significantly greater than ordering something online.

The only time I got called out on my signature was when trying to vote, interestingly, as it’s sloppy enough to be variable from time to time.

Why do you want this? Never mind that your cards are all invalid and actually may not be used anywhere (it sounds like this isn’t a problem), but why do you think asking to hand over extra personal information makes you safer?

As someone who verifies credit cards for purchases made over the phone, you would be shocked at how little is required to get a verification. Basically if the card number and expiration date are correct, it will go through. I’ve had many cards where I found out later the name I used to verify the card was wildly misspelled and they still go through.

Basic answer - signatures are not checked because the credit card companies don’t require it.

Yeah I never type my name exactly as it is written on the card as each card company has differing opinions on what characters are acceptable. It’s never been rejected for that reason.

What makes you think we haven’t?

I live in the US. All my new cards are chip and signature. And only about 10% of the places that I use my card ask me to use the chip most are still doing magnetic swipe.

This is why we have the security codes on the back.

Yeah, I actually hate it when I get asked for ID (which I believe is against the credit card merchant agreement, anyway–you’re only supposed to check for signature) but I’ve never bothered to complain about it, because it’s not going to get me anywhere.

Because we haven’t.

None of my cards have a chip yet. Only two stores I use (Target and Whole Foods) have the chip reader enabled. Two other grocery stores and a ton of small retailers I use aren’t using chip readers at all yet. Even at the chip-enabled stores, you can still use a swipe, because millions of folks like me haven’t had their banks issue the chipped cards yet. Two of my bank cards were issued this year without chips. Since the stores want my money, they take both types of cards.

Even with chipped cards, a lot of US transactions are chip + signature rather than chip + pin.

All of my credit cards are now chipped, and they’re all chip and signature, not chip and pin, and very few card readers here can read the chip. They’re almost all still swipe, which is fine because I don’t think chip and signature is any safer than non-chip and signature, and reading the chip seems to take a long time.

I’ve had my card information stolen a couple of times, and each time the card was still in my possession when I discovered the problem. The people who used my information did have physical cards with them, so I guess they were able to take my information and make cards. Checking signatures wouldn’t have made a difference because the back of their card would have been signed with my name in their handwriting.

The most common method is to take a no-longer-valid credit card (lost, stolen, deactivated, expired) and re-write the magnetic strip on the back with data skimmed from your valid card. That is why at some stores the clerk asks to see your credit card after you have run it through the reader and types the last four digits in at the cash register: It is a check to see if the number embossed on the card matches the number on the magnetic strip.

All my cards are chipped and have been for a few months. Excluding gas pumps about half the retailers I use regularly are chipped. And more every week.

So looking at everyone’s anecdotes we see the US rollout is both still in progress and real uneven between different CC issuers and between different parts of the country.