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Credit Card Safety: Should Sign Your Card?

When you first get a credit card, there is a signature strip along the back of the card. Most of the time, the credit card company from which you received your card will instruct you to sign your card immediately. I do not really believe that signing the back of a credit card adds any extra security.

First of all, unless you use a certain kind of pen, your signature usually rubs off within a relatively short amount of time. Therefore, you have to keep tracing over your own signature so that the signature strip does not look like a jumbled mess.

Second, by signing the back of the card, you are giving would-be identity thieves a sample of your signature. Most retailers only briefly look at your signature, if at all. If the signatures look even remotely similar, no questions are asked. Therefore, I feel that by signing the signature line, you are unintentionally helping an identity thief steal your identity.

Third, as briefly stated above, most retail employees do not even look at your signature line. However, many do ask for you id. Therefore, signing the back of your credit card is usually a waste of time.

Instead of signing your name to the back of your credit card, you should print the words “SEE ID” in all capital letters. If the retail employee happens to look at the back of your credit card to match signatures, they will be instructed to ask for your id and match the signature on your government issued identification. This is helpful because now the employee can check your information against the credit card and can match your identification. Additionally, by placing those words on the back of a credit card, you are making it harder for an identity thief to steal your identity. Printing the words “SEE ID” on the back of your credit will not stop all attempts of identity theft. However, it will make it harder for the identity thief and will therefore, hopefully act as a deterrent. That is all you can really ask for in this day and age.

If you want to sign the back of your credit card, do what you feel will protect you against identity theft, however, as I stated above, I believe that signatures on the back of a credit card are ineffective and, at worst, help an identity thief accomplish his/her goal.

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