I had a weird experience at the Post Office this afternoon when I tried to buy a roll of stamps and am hoping some of my blog pals can offer up some thoughts…
When I got the latest wave of credit cards I decided that this time, instead of signing them, I’d write “Ask for ID” on the back, as a bit of a fraud protection and identity theft prevention. So far, it’s distressing to see how few people actually care about asking for my ID, even when I point out that’s what I’ve written on the back. But that’s another story.
This afternoon, we popped into the local Post Office and dutifully queued up until it was our turn, then asked for a roll of stamps, $42, and presented my credit card to pay.
The clerk looked at “Ask for ID” on the back, seemed a bit embarrassed, and said “I can’t accept that.”
“What?” I said, in disbelief. “Why not?”
“We’ve been told not to accept ‘ask for id’ credit cards. Sorry.”
I pulled out my driver’s license and said “here, here’s my ID. I don’t see what the problem is.”
“I’m sorry sir, but I can’t accept this card. Do you have another one?”
I looked at my wallet, wherein I only carry two credit cards, and realized that I’d written “Ask for ID” on the back of both rather than signing them. So I luckily had enough cash on me for the stamps, but was peeved by that point.
I asked for her supervisor and she said that it was official post office regulation. Then she pulled out a notebook of bulletins and showed me one that indeed says:
“A card with the words ‘see I.D.’ or two signatures on the signature panel is not acceptable. The card companies consider this to be an invalid card.”
She even generously made a copy of it for me, so I know that’s exactly what it says.
But that begs the question: Did I err in not signing the cards and instead writing “Ask for ID”? I now don’t remember where I read it, but I’m pretty darn sure it was a WSJ or NYT article or similar talking about fraud prevention and recommending strongly that not carrying around signature samples was a wise move.
Nonetheless, I now have an ongoing problem with the post office, a place where I often use my credit card and now, apparenlty, can no longer do so? WTH?
Anyone have any thoughts, insight or even links to any of the credit card sites or government agencies where they recommend that you do (or don’t!) use “Ask for ID” on your cards? Thanks!!!
Update: According to VISA if the card says “see ID” or equivalent, merchants are required to “Request a signature. Ask the cardholder to sign the card and provide current government identification, such as a driver’s license or passport (if local law permits).” So that’s that. I goofed and need to squeeze a signature on my cards. Oh well.