I had an interesting conversation with a friend this evening. He had read an article that suggested that instead of signing the back of your credit card, you instead place “Check ID” in place of the signature. The theory goes that if someone got hold of your credit card, when they purchased something and the sales clerk went to check the signature, the message would show thus eliciting a request to see another form of ID. If it is you, you can simply show your driver’s license and there is no problem, but if the person who stole it tries to show ID, it may be a bit more complicated for them.
There are, however, some problems with this. From my own experiences in Japan, there are very few people who check the signature on the back of a credit card. While I have been back in the US for a short time, it seems that it continues to be the same here from the times I have used the credit card here. If nobody checks the signature in the first place, then there is little chance for anyone to check for further ID.
Furthermore, if you don’t sign your credit card, it isn’t legally valid and any merchant could refuse to take (if they do, they could be help liable for any theft instead of the credit card company). Again, if they aren’t checking the signature in the first place, this isn’t a problem, but who wants to get in a fight with a sales clerk that refused to take your credit card because you haven’t signed it?
While having your credit card stolen is a possibility, I think that the bigger threat is having your credit card information skimmed as was done with my father recently. In this case, it makes no difference on how you sign the back of your credit card.
It’s an interesting topic – does anyone take specific steps such as not signing their credit card to make it more difficult for credit card thieves?
As a side note, according to http://creditcardsguidance.com, there’s a rumor saying if a card holder leaves the signature strip blank and sets no password to his card in China, he will not be held responsible for any money loss in case of a card thievery.