Why dont credit cards have PIN numbers?

Thanks for the replies. Sailors point about need for convenience where there is no technology is a good one.

Disadvantages of different security checks,

signature - easy to copy and noone checks it
PIN identification number (stirring preesh) - too difficult without the technology
photo - ???

Not sure about what is wrong with a photo.

So, it seems the CC companies would prefer to provide convenience over security, as Arnold W suggested. Agreed?

Really? Can anyone verify this? I have “check photo id” on all my cards and I’ve never had a problem.

Check your cardholder agreement, it’ll clearly stat whether it has to be signed or not to be valid, and most do I belive.

If you put just Check Photo Id on it, with no signature, you’re running the risk that if someone steals the card, they’ll put their own version of your signature on your card.

Even if you’ve used the whole signature strip, they can just explain it away that they found out that it had to be signed, and went back later and signed it.

But what if Check Id is my name?[/smartass]

I assume that in these countries, they would take payments the old fashioned way. That’s exactly what would happen to me if I came to the US with my card. I wouldn’t have to use the PIN, and I’d still be able to pay with it.

Sorry for the hijack, but is it an usual pratice of US banks to charge their customers a fee for making debit purchases?

If so, is it a way to encourage people to use a credit card rather than a debit card? Or is there some other reason?

Indeed. I don’t know about everyone else, but on every credit card I’ve ever had, the text “Not valid unless signed” is printed right next to the signature area.

If you look at the back of your cards, it will also say something like “Not valid unless signed.” The US Post Office locations I visit all have prominent signage clearly explaining that, while they now take credit cards, “Check ID” bearing cards will not be accepted under any circumstances.

I suppose that you could adopt a block printed “CHECK PHOTO ID”, as your legal signature. Would startle the clerks who ask to check your ID when your driver’s license says CHECK PHOTO ID in the signature block too :smiley:

This article (warning: long URL, google cache) from the Wichita Eagle newspaper (Deb Gruver, 25 August 2002) detailed a bit of research; it may not be available soon so I’ll reproduce a small, relevant passage here:

Hope that’s not too long; I wouldn’t have done it at all if I could’ve found a direct link but the Eagle’s site is somewhat unresponsive at the moment.

Another thought: is forgery a separate charge levied at criminals caught engaging stolen card fraud, who endeavor to duplicate the scrawl on the signature panels, even if the clerk doesn’t look too closely? It would seem that such a charge is unavailable to lay on the thief if the clerk blows off the ID check, and supposing the thief is caught without possession of a forged ID in the victim’s name.


Unlike most people responding to this thread, my signature is almost always checked.

So, while it’s unlikely that I’ll get away with using someone else’s card - it seems that mine are up for grabs.

This is not reassuring.

On the other hand, while standing in line at the bank last night - I got two people’s PINs. (so I guess that isn’t all that secure for an observant thief either.)

Someone can watch you key a PIN, but then they would have to steal the card off you. That is as obvious at robbing you of your cash. If someone found that savings card on the ground, it is worthless because it needs the PIN.

However, if they found your CC, then you could use it like $$ (if it wasnt cancelled).

I bought a $50 present today with my card. All I had to do was scribble my signature.

In hindsight, as an experiment, I should have made a poor copy of my signature to test if they check properly. I will try to remember to do this next time.

My bank does it too.

Debit transactions go through a different network from credit card transactions. Historically, ATMs were linked into networks like Star, Cirrus, Instant Cash, and The Exchange; the logos on the back of your card tell you which ATMs and point-of-sale machines you can use to access your account. When you use your ATM/debit card at a point of sale, you pay for the convenience of having an ATM inside the store.

Most debit cards now are Visa or MasterCard “check cards”, which means they take money directly out of your checking account, but they’re processed like a regular credit card transaction–the bank gets paid by the merchant, not the cardholder. If there’s a problem with the transaction, you talk to Visa, not your bank.

A check card with ATM logos on the back can be used either way. If you choose “credit”, you sign; if you choose “debit”, you enter your PIN and possibly pay a fee. I’ve only had to use “debit” at Costco, where they only take ATM cards and American Express.