The credit card companies charge merchants 3 to 4 percent to process card payments, so I suppose some of that income goes into a reserve to pay claims of fraud. By the way it's a good idea to call your credit card company and let them know about any trips you plan to take when you'll visit outside the USA or travel for more than a week. That way they know your charges are legitimate when they see a restaurant or hotel bill come through from a location on your itinerary. Some banks let customers handle this sort of notification online.
Interesting points, Jon. The logical conclusion is that fraud is not a large enough problem to warrant security measures. It's rare that anyone asks me to present ID when I use my VISA card. Usually it's an unsophisticated mom and pop shop. I don't know who they think they're protecting? If the charge goes through, they get paid. I owned a magazine for a decade. We sold subs and ancillary products, taking credit cards over the phone and through mail. Obviously, ID was out of the question.
Jon: I have to admit that I've been one of those people who readily showed my picture ID because I thought that was the right and safe thing to do. Having read your column and the follow-up comments here, I won't do it anymore.
"I doubt Franklin, Galvani, and Volta expected their efforts to store electricity to be turned into a device like a Taser. It's impossible to anticipate how one's efforts will be misused in the future."
Not so sure about Franklin. He was known for getting all his guests to hold hands in a circle and and then inserting a Leyden jar (charged capacitor) into the circle circuit to shock everyone at once. He also got a few tickles from the key-kite-lightining experiments. Not so sure about Galvani--he used to shock dead frogs with a bi-metallic battery. And don't forget Edison and all those animal and human electrocutions to show that DC was supposedly safer than AC.
Good thing we engineers don't have a reputation as cruel sadists.
Hi, ChasChas. So then if a company gives me a tour of its plant and I see something on a new design on a lab bench it's OK to take the information I have seen and use it? Honorable people have a set of ethics that tells them although the information is visible, it's not theirs and they cannot exploit it.
Not stupid at all. In fact, the VISA and MasterCard merchant agreements clearly state a merchant MAY NOT ask for a photo ID. Repeated requests for photo IDs usually come at the behest of an ignorant store manager and could cause VISA or MC to cancel their agreement. Never provide more personal information than necessary. I'm always surprised that so many people do not know their rights to privacy and display a photo ID whenever someone asks.
I once asked a spokesperson at a charge-card company why they don't use a fingerprint scanner to authenticate credit-card purchases. He told me it would cost more to install the scanners, buy or create software, and gather fingerprint data that it would save them. Thus it cost less to have reserves for fraudulent purchases than to secure against them.
"I refuse to show a photo ID when I make an in-person credit card purchase,"
This is just being stupid by orneriness. I wish they all asked for ID. I'd rather show a photo ID and have a clerk really look at it than the cursory glance at the signature space they usually perform. I don't sign the cards, a protection I take in case my physical cards are stolen. However, store clerks usually don't even notice even when they make the motions of looking at the signature.
At the point of purchase, the store clerk has your credit card number which ties into all kinds of other data anyway. And they are seeing your face...hopefully, if the card is not stolen. For me, the privacy ship has sailed as soon as the purchase is made, and I'd rather have my facial appearance or some other biometric used for security from theft.
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