Should you sign the back of your credit card?

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If you read the back of your credit card, you will probably read “not valid unless signed.” However, many cardholders still refuse to sign the back of their card. But why?

Many consumers believe signing the back of the card gives potential thieves a copy of their signature. Other cardholders often write “see ID” in the signature space hoping a retailer will ask for identification before accepting the card.

However, Jason Steele of says consumers should sign their credit card.

“The whole point of a signature is not that it is a secret symbol known only to you, but that only you can accurately duplicate it on command,” Steel writes.

Referring to a potential thief, Steele writes, “The hard part is quickly and precisely forging a signature on a register receipt. A thief might be able to fool a cashier in a hurry, but the signature will easily be identified as a forgery if the cardholder contests the charge.”

According to most credit card companies’ terms of use, merchants are not to accept a credit card unless it is signed. MasterCard’s policy states: “MasterCard rules and security procedures require that credit cards must be signed by the cardholder in order to be accepted for payment.”

In their polices, both Visa and MasterCard state a card must have a signature to be processed. Visa does not allow merchants to make the display of a photo ID as a condition of acceptance.

According to the article, credit card companies are soon expected to change to a chip-and-PIN system, which will replace the signature with a four-digit PIN number.