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Are Merchants Supposed to Ask For ID When I Pay With a Credit Card?

The terms of a credit card.
A cashier swiping a credit card.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 June 2014
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Many people wonder whether merchants have the right to ask for ID when you use your credit card. Some people are happy to have their ID checked, since it is less likely that a card will be used fraudulently. Others are unhappy with providing additional information, especially if a merchant writes down their name, address, or phone number on credit card slips. There are a number of different laws that govern whether a merchant can ask for ID, some provided by credit card companies, and others that may be applicable in the state in which you live.

Most Mastercard and Visa credit cards actually have merchant provisions that say a merchant cannot refuse a credit card if a person refuses to provide ID beyond their signature on the back of the card. These companies also ban slips that would require a customer to fill out their name, address and phone number. The standard rule is that merchants may ask for ID, but they can’t refuse the card if a person doesn’t provide that ID. They also can’t ask for specific forms of ID; a student ID or a Costco card with your picture on it is just as valid as a state ID.

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Depending upon the state in which you live, certain other merchant activities are banned. Retailers may be prohibited by state law and cannot even ask for ID, unless your card says "see ID," though this varies from region to region. Many states also ban refusing cards when ID is not presented, and prohibit writing down any personal information gleaned from ID cards and the security code on the back of credit cards. Salespeople are also usually not allowed to write your telephone number on a credit card slip. Merchants are often unaware of these restrictions, and if you feel strongly about not presenting ID when you use a credit card, your best defense is bringing a copy of your state code, and your credit card company’s rules, with appropriate passages highlighted.

There are some exceptions when merchants can ask for ID in order to complete a purchase with a credit card. If you are purchasing alcohol, tobacco or anything else that requires you to be a certain age, a store may ask for ID. The store still can’t write down identifying things like your driver’s license or home number on credit card slips.

The only time writing down this information, or asking for ID as a condition of purchase is legal, in most states, is if you are purchasing something that will be delivered to your home. In this case, a merchant may require your address and phone number so that items can be appropriately delivered. Under other circumstances though, most merchants, when you physically present your card to them, can do no more than ask you to sign your card. Failure to provide your signature, may void sales and allow a merchant to refuse a sale.

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Discuss this Article

anon952786
Post 18

What other states besides Washington and Oregon have voided the portion of the Merchant Agreement that refers to requesting ID?

anon945170
Post 17

As long as a merchant follows the correct procedure for a credit card transaction, they are covered. There is no reason to ask for ID. They are not asking for ID to protect the consumer, they are asking to protect themselves. The consumer would only be liable for 50 dollars to the credit card company, if their card was used fraudulently, and rarely do they even make you pay that.

anon348988
Post 16

Merchants not only ask for I.D. to protect customers from fraud but also the companies from potential litigation. If one wants the luxury of electronic money and transactions without cash, he or she must endure certain inconveniences. If the requirement of identity verification is not acceptable, use cash. It is really that simple.

anon326859
Post 15

When asked for ID I appreciate it; I have nothing to hide. I just found out that Florida cannot ask for ID when I saw multiple charges at Disney World. Needless to say, I am not at Disney World; I am thousands of miles away. Why wouldn't you want the merchant to verify that the card user is the owner?

anon323004
Post 14

If they want your name, your name or anyone's name will be in the card. If they want a signature, well they will see one on the back of the card as well. If they're not sure if the card is from the person who is paying, well how about the merchant compares the signature to the one on the card? In my opinion, I don't think anyone should be asked for an ID just to make a purchase. "Don't trust anyone."

anon312808
Post 13

As Anon135 pointed out, a merchant shouldn't ask foryour id as proof of card ownership. However that doesn't mean you don't have to provide an ID at all merchants.

I am in the hotel industry and we require an ID from every guest at check-in. This is not for CC verification; it is for age verification and reservation verification as most hotels do not allow anyone under 18 and sometimes under 21 to check in.

The fact that it is asked along with a CC should not be taken as the merchant (hotel) asking for ID to prove ownership of the CC.

anon279889
Post 12

Oregon & Washington State have both voided the portion of the Merchant Agreement that prevents asking for identification.

This is from the Oregon Law:

Any provision in a contract between a merchant and a credit card or debit card issuer, financial institution or other person that prohibits the merchant from verifying the identity of a person who presents a credit card or debit card in payment for goods or services by requiring or requesting identification is contrary to public policy and void. Last modified: August 7, 2008

This is from the Washington State Law:

Findings — 2003 c 89: “The legislature finds that financial fraud is too common, and that it threatens the safety and well-being of the public by driving up the costs of goods and services and unduly burdening the law enforcement community. Further, the legislature finds that financial fraud can be deterred by allowing retailers to verify the identity of persons who seek to pay for goods or services with a credit or debit card. Finally, the legislature finds that some retailers are deterred from verifying their customers’ identity by contractual arrangements with credit card issuers. The legislature declares that such contracts violate the public policy that all citizens should be able to take reasonable steps to prevent themselves and their communities from falling victim to crime.” [2003 c 89 § 1.]

anon161748
Post 10

The most ridiculous clerks are here in South Florida. I understand there is a lot of fraudulent activity in the area, but asking a customer for Id for a purchase of just $10 is humiliating. The minute a clerk asks you for ID, she is implying that she thinks you're a potential thief. On the other hand, doing the same for something above $100 is correct for me.

anon142383
Post 9

I work at a very large retail company and I think that it is good to check everyone's ID when they are using a credit card. There have been too many times that i have asked to see their ID and the card does not match or they just want to use another form of payment.

If i did not check their ID, then the rightful card holder would be out that money if they did not know that their card had been stolen.

Any time i go to any store and use my credit card, i always have my ID ready, just in case they ask me for it. I don't see what the problem people have with showing their ID and fight with you over showing it.

anon135606
Post 8

Anon, above, is dead 180 degrees wrong. Absolutely wrong.

All credit cards are issued under a cardholder agreement that specifically states that, unless you report a card missing, you are responsible for its use regardless of who presents the card. Note -- this provision protects the merchant. The merchant gets paid whether your card is presented by you or not. The law protects you. You cannot be held liable for use of the card beyond a nominal minimum (fifty dollars the last time I looked) once your card is reported missing.

The merchant has no reason to know whether the cardholder presented the card. This is not my opinion. It is written right in the merchant's agreement with the credit card issuer (Visa and MasterCard).

The merchant needs one thing only: A valid card that is signed on the back. That's it. No further ID is required, or permissible under that merchant agreement.

And the card issuers are clear as to why this rule exists: The single greatest risk of ID theft is off your driver's license when you present it at point of sale. That's why the card issuers tell the merchant not to ask for your ID and they are correct in doing so.

anon127967
Post 6

Ive been in the industry for years and as long as the back of the card is signed that is the only verification needed to compare signatures by the visa/mc guidelines.

If a merchant asks you for more and the back of your card is signed, you should call your issuing bank and tell them you want to file a compliant against the merchant with either visa ormc depending on how the card is branded.

If you do not sign the back of the card, the merchant does not have to accept the card as payment at that point. That is why you see signs in the post office that say credit cards must be signed and "see ID" on the back of the card is unacceptable.

anon122068
Post 5

And we wonder why there is so much credit card fraud!! The CC companies don't care, they get their cut. They probably also have contacts with the states they do business in that allow them to write off any CC business losses. The rich get richer and the poor get screwed!

anon120318
Post 4

there are numbers to call to put in a complaint on the store. After a few complaints they can take the privilege of taking credit at such stores. No store wants to have to say "cash only". So they will talk to their employees and things will have to change.

anon97117
Post 3

I think the fact that anyone argues against a retailer asking for ID is ridiculous. The argument seems to be that you want to protect your personal information, when in fact that is the exact reason ID should be presented- to assure the card actually belongs to the person swiping it!

There are scams where teams of frauds setup shop and store credit card information produced when retailers swipe their cards. This information is stored onto cards other the one you keep on your person. Therefore if the fraud makes a copy of your credit card using this information from the magnetic strip and merchants swipe it without checking their ID, you get hit for all the transactions until the dispute is over! It's happened to me and it sucks. It costs retailers money, the credit card companies money, and merchants- for no other reason than uneducated people don't want to show their ID, and merchants have adjusted policies and procedures to make you people happy.

I have never opposed anyone checking my ID for anything, it's no different than someone asking your name. So get over it!

jlparke
Post 2

I was shopping at a store--not on-line--and was asked for the security code on the back of my credit card. I refused to give it to the clerk so he would not allow me to charge the purchase. Is this legal? I live in California.

anon17299
Post 1

What about Visa or Master Card Debit cards? I get asked every time at the Dollar Store and don't feel its right. Then they won't accept my Veteran issued VA disability health ID or my Golden Agers card because it doesn't have a expiration date on the VA card (I'll always be a Vet) and I'll always be disabled! Why should I spend more money just to satisfy the Dollar Store? I refuse to take my Passport to show my ID!

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