Investigative Report: Retailers Checking IDs On Credit Card Purchases (VIDEO)

By Emma Koch - 21Alive
By Rachelle Spence - 21Alive

February 6, 2014 Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 1:00 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- Protecting your bank account from thieves is getting more difficult. Crooks come up with new ways to steal your hard-earned money every day, but more often than not, it's as easy as swiping your card, no questions asked.

We decided to put that to the test. Rachelle Spence headed into the mall with a pair of credit cards that weren’t hers (on loan from co-workers) and what cashiers won't know, is that in her scarf, she had a tiny hidden camera.

One of the cards clearly belongs to a man, while the other isn't signed on the back. Putting the final adjustments on her camera, she makes her way through the mall.

Her first stop…a clothing store. She grabs a couple hundred dollars worth of coats and heads to the register.

Cashier: "Credit or debit?"
Rachelle: "Credit"
Cashier: "Can I please see your card?"

He checks the front, flips the card over, and then hands it right back. Rachelle’s on her way.

Feeling a littler braver, she goes for "big ticket" items. Just a couple stores down, she enters an electronics store, and quickly asked for an iPad mini. After swiping the card, the machine reads "Please hand card to cashier." She does and even faster this time, she has the card right back.

In ten minutes, she has spent nearly $600, without being questioned or asked for her ID.

Trying to maintain a crook's mindset, she searches for a jewelry counter. After a couple of minutes looking into glass cases, she points to a diamond necklace. This time, she uses the card that isn't signed on the back. The employee asks for her card, but doesn't even take it from her hand. Hesitantly, she puts it back in her pocket.

Is this how easy it is for thieves to rip you off?

There's no law that requires businesses to check for IDs. It's a choice made by each company.

But just as she was starting to feel invincible, one employee hinted she was up to no good.

Cashier: "What's your first name?”
Rachelle: "My first name is Rachelle."
Cashier: "Same last name or different?"
Rachelle: "Different…"
Cashier: "I'm going to put the transaction under you, but then charge him."

For a moment, she thought she was going to get away with her designer purse and wallet. But after a pause that seemed like forever, the employee asked the tough question.

Cashier: "I can't help but ask…why do you have his card?"

Not prepared, Rachelle tells her it's a friend's that told her to treat herself to a gift.

Cashier: "Can we put this on your own card and he can pay you back for it?"
Rachelle: "I actually don't have my card on me."
Cashier: "My gut just doesn't feel like this is right. Can I put this on hold for you?"

Her luck and shopping spree had come to an end.

In under an hour, Rachelle had no problem buying several coats, fine jewelry, a new bag, and even an iPad mini. Although she did hit one minor "speed bump," she realized it's not hard to spend what's not yours.

So would people prefer to have their IDs checked when making a credit card purchase? She asked shoppers to find out.

Woman: "I appreciate it because then I can prove that I am who my card says that I am."
Man: "I feel relieved. I think that they should ask because it's my way of knowing that they are checking my security, that it's safe, and that they know it's me."
Woman: "I love when they ask to see my ID, we actually have it on our cards to ‘See ID’.”

But both Visa and Mastercard highly discourage cardholders from writing "See ID" on the back of their plastic.

Senior Vice-President of Communications with Mastercard, Seth Eisen said "The card is not valid unless you sign it. So unless your name is “See ID,” that would not be a valid signature."

Eisen adds that the retailer should ask for ID or call the bank or credit union that issued the card for authorization if the card is not signed. In addition, Mastercard says that stores should require the customer to sign the card on the spot.

Ultimately, your protection comes down to you. Be sure to keep your cards close and regularly monitor your statements.

Follow Rachelle on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news updates.

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