Cashiers Not Looking At Credit Card Signatures

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

February 19, 2006

Through technology, we no longer have to hand over a credit card for a cashier to swipe. But do the new credit card machines make it more convenient for the customer or easier for thieves to get away with your cash?

Just a few weeks ago Lyla Wood had her purse stolen. Her license, cash and all her credit cards are now gone.

"A women's pocketbook has her life in it and you have to start over with everything," said Wood.

Wood is slowly getting her identity back, but now she is worried that the thieves could easily use her credit cards, since nowadays not many cashiers look at the signatures anymore.

"Anybody that took my pocketbook could walk in with my credit card and do whatever they choose with it and it's not right. They have a job to check and verify that's why you have different forms of identification, and they don't do it," said Wood.

In fact, we asked unsuspecting shoppers all over Charlottesville if their cashier looked at the signature when they paid with a credit card.

"No," said Jennifer Yates.

"They do not, I can tell you that," said James Oliver Shifflett.

"They never looked at my signature, they just swipe it," said Jackie Shifflett.

One shopper admits she has worked the system herself. "I've actually come in before and not even had my credit card and used it, and nothing has ever been said," said Yates.

It happens at gas stations, grocery stores, and even pharmacies. Starting November of last year CVS Pharmacy started a new policy. Customers can put up to $50 on their credit card without CVS getting a signature.

Victims of identity theft said these policies that are supposed to make it more convenient for the customer, could be making it just as easy to commit fraud. That means more money out of consumers wallets.

"The credit card companies don't lose money on these transactions. They spread the loss over everyone. So, when you pay higher fees, you're paying for the losses that other people permitted," said Garrett Smith, of the Michie, Hamlett, Lowry, Rasmussen & Tweel Law Firm.

A CVS spokesperson told ABC16 they are not worried about the fraud aspect. This is the direction technology is moving in. It is more convenient for the customer.

"They may not be worried about the fraud aspect, but you should, we should, and that's why we should hold our merchants accountable," said Smith.

Attorney Garrett Smith said all consumers can do is insist the cashiers verify the signatures. But that doesn't put Lyla Wood at ease.

"They have a job to do and they should do it, I shouldn't have to tell them how to perform their job," said Wood.

In 2004, credit card fraud was the #1 type of identity theft that Virginians reported.

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