Tell this to your friend… they won’t believe you. Tell this to your mom… she won’t believe you. Tell this to a store… they definitely won’t believe you. But what I’m about to tell you… believe it…
Legally, you never need an I.D. to use your credit card!
A merchant is not allowed to require your I.D. for a credit card transaction. Your signature is all that is needed. Whether you’re buying Starbucks or a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive – no I.D. required! That’s the policy set forth by Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.
Don’t believe me? I Know, most stores would never believe me. I bet the police wouldn’t buy it either. But I’ll prove it. Let’s start with the world’s most popular credit card… Visa. Below is an excerpt from their merchant rules:
“Although Visa Rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID, merchants cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance. Therefore, merchants cannot refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID. Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures.”
…and if you think I’m lying, you can view the official document here:
Not only can a store not require a drivers license or other I.D., but Visa actually discourages them for asking for it! MasterCard also has an equivalent policy, which can be found here if you still don’t believe me:
American Express and Discover both have similar policies, and not only prohibit I.D. from being required, but also strongly discourage it.
Often when people hear of this, they are either delighted or discouraged. I’ll address the later, first. By federal law, you can only be held liable for up to $50 of fraudulent credit card charges. That was enacted decades ago, and today, I have never heard of any credit card company, even the scummy ones, enforcing the $50 deductible. Simply put, you’re not responsble for charges. So before you blow your stack, remember it’s not your money that’s liable!
Now that brings us to the question “If a store can’t ask me for I.D. to use a credit card, wouldn’t that hurt the credit card companies?” Well theoretically, yes, they take the liability. But with modern automatic fraud detection techniques, such as unusual spending patterns or use of card outside of your normal areas, the crime is usually caught (as in new charges prevented) early on, even if the consumer doesn’t notice them.
Credit card companies want their products to be as user-friendly as possible, and they know requiring I.D. isn’t exactly user-friendly. Therefore they’ve concluded they’d rather take the risk with their money.
Personally, I am glad merchants can’t require an I.D. for a purchase. There’s been countless times I don’t have an I.D. on me. Also I think requiring an I.D. for smaller purposes is too much of a hassle anyway. Plus let’s admit it, everyone nowadays has Photoshop and photo printers that can crank out a fake drivers license that would suffice anyway. In reality, requiring an I.D. is no foolproof way to prevent fraud at all. Criminals will simply turn to different avenues to use the stolen cards instead, such as on the internet.
Next time a store clerk asks for your I.D., you may want to point out the agreement they have with the credit card associations. If that doesn’t work, and you really feel wronged, you can file a complaint against them:
So next time someone asks you “Do I need an I.D. to use a credit card?” you can tell them… no!