If you've used a debit or credit card lately, you've probably noticed that you are never asked for any identification and, in many cases, don't even need to sign for your purchase. When I bought some items in Walgreen's recently, I just swiped my card and she handed me a receipt.
I realize this is so you never show your card to a cashier or clerk. That was always the last thing I ever worried about because, after all, most of them do not have photographic memories and, even if they did, are simply trying to make a living like the rest of us! IMHO ID theft is mostly committed by hackers and thieves, not people who checkout your groceries, at least in my experience.
For about 40 years people have willingly handed servers at restaurants their credit cards. Then he/she takes it from you, leaves the room for a few minutes, and comes back 5 minutes later with your slip to sign. It only takes a minute to order lots of stuff online! LOL Yet suddenly, the same people who dine out all the time are afraid to hand a salesperson or cashier a credit card? Doesn't make sense to me. When you reserve a hotel room or a car, you always give a credit card number to a stranger on the other end of the phone. Then why would that person go to Walmart and worry that someone working her third job might remember your name and credit card number?
It might take an extra 20 seconds, but I really don't mind if someone asks for ID or check my signature. I want someone to wonder why a man who is 25 years old with red hair is using a credit card with a picture of a blonde woman in her 50s. Yet, when I was at Target, I could have been any gender, race or age since I swiped my own card and she never saw it.
Don't get me wrong, because I definitely believe ID theft is on the rise. I mean, recently over 40 million credit/debit card numbers were stolen by a group of hackers. If you haven't read about this, here's one article from the New York times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/06/business/06theft.html?em However, the hackers weren't the cashiers who are busily scanning your items as people wait anxiously in line.
Well, this was just a subject I thought about today after making a purchase. So it's our responsibility to keep an eye on our credit/debit card balances for fraudulent actitivity. Frankly, I won't use my debit card any more except at the bank ATM, since it's too risky. If you use one at the pump, did you know you might temporarily be charged for more than you paid, creating an overdraft? See this article which explains it better than I can. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/07/21/debit.card.holds.gas.ap/index.html
You might also fall victim to a scam where a thief installs a skimmer that stores the number of every credit card that is swiped at that pump. That's been a problem in Florida for years, but I'm not sure it's nationwide. Well, since I'm on the subject, I just googled a few words and guess what? They're everywhere! http://wtopnews.com/?nid=104&sid=1453928 If you're not paying cash, it's probably safer to ask the cashier inside the store to run your card. Although I confess. I pay at the pump with a credit card all the time.
So while we're all swiping our little hearts out, nobody is watching ... only the bad guys! I'm not sure if all this "convenience" and extra "security" is safe for consumers!
"And hey, let's be careful out there!" Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues