Would You Let A Station Attendant Hold On To Your License While You Pump Gas?

Larry tells Consumerist that when he tried to pay for gasoline with his credit card recently, the station attendant didn’t just ask to see his driver’s license. She asked to keep it while he pumped gas. Have you run across this in your own travels? What would you do?

I’m from the NYC area and I am currently visiting Miami. I use a credit card for most purchases, and I was initially surprised to discover how many merchants here in Miami ask to see your driver’s license when making a purchase. As I said, I’m from NY (certainly a big city!) so I am no stranger to cities, fraud, etc, but the pervasiveness of this request surprised me. It’s not that big a deal to me to show my id, although I know this has been the subject of debate on Consumerist recently, so I’ve generally just let the merchant look at my ID to verify my identity.

In most cases, this has been uneventful, but there was once particular noteworthy incident that I am going to tell you about. A few days ago, I went to buy gas at [redacted], a local discount gas chain. The station I stopped at did not have a pay-at-the-pump credit card reader, so I went inside to give them my credit card so that I could fill up. The woman inside asked for my credit card (fine), and asked for my driver’s license (ok), but she then wanted to hold onto my license while I went outside to pump my gas. This request really surprised me (thoughts of identity theft ran through my head), so I replied that she could look at my license but she could not hold it. She said sorry then, no gas and handed my license and credit card back to me. I said fine and went elsewhere to purchase gas.

Now, I’m ok with leaving the credit card with the person while I pump, but the thought of leaving my credit card *and* my license seems too much to bear.

What do other consumerist readers think? Would you leave your license in the hands of some unknown person in a plexiglass booth while you pumped your gas?


Comments

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  1. Grogey says:

    Oh Hell, NO

    • econobiker says:

      Miami, FL- nuf said…

    • spamtasticus says:

      I am a dual citizen and actually carry the “national ID” of my other nationality with me so that I never give my license to anyone except a cop while driving. I love the reactions from some people. Them:”What is this?”….. Me: “my ID”….Them:”Don’t you have a DL?”…..Me:”Yes”…….Them:”Can I see that?”……Me:”Ummm… no”……Them: blank stare….Me: blank stare.
      My favorite was when my wife and I stopped at a steak house and the waitress asked us for ID’s because we ordered some alcohol. I gave my “national ID” and my wife gave her learners permit. (she does not driver so it has never been upgraded to a full license. we are both WAY older than 21……..WAY………Way……older…..) The waitress looked at it and said that she could not accept it because it was “Just a learners permit”. I assured her that I had a full valid license and that I would be drinking right next to her so there should be no issues. Instead of laughing she ended up calling her manager. Hilarity ensued as the manager was not only quite a bit smarter but also had a cense of humor.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        This happens alot, especially in states who have different orientations (vertical rather then horizontal) for underage drivers.

        Even if you are 21 if you still have a vertical card they won’t serve you – no matter what.

        • Zarggg says:

          Not true. Back in 2002, I renewed my license the week before my 21st birthday. I had the alternate-orientation and red stripe on my license for 5 years. Never had a problem being served.

        • Conformist138 says:

          That would blow! My license still has a bright red box around my photo screaming the date I turn(ed) 21. I’m 25 now, but everyone still has to do a double-take when they check my ID. The license doesn’t expire until next year, so if I lived in a state that got pissy about the box and not the date itself, I would have been forced to pay fees to get my license renewed early.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I once had a bar refuse my military ID. I was over 30, so I was tired of getting carded everywhere in this college town and figured a little variety was good. Needless to say, I figured somewhere else would that like to receive my money.

    • Pax says:

      Exactly what Grogey said. But with a half-dozen exclamation marks.

  2. CherieBerry says:

    That is insane!

    • KingPsyz says:

      I will say, when I worked at a large station in Lake Havasu near the slips we had a full on liquor store and also sold racing gas (like 108 octane or something) we would take the ID and CC of anyone pulling up in a boat that we didn’t know for several reasons.

      One on busy days they would try and pop the lock on the racing fuel.
      They would fill their tank and drive off and the CC would get declined
      Their buddies would bum rush the store and try and make off with as much beer as they could carry

      When we held the driver’s CC and ID magically all those problems with out of state boaters disapeared…

      Hell on hollidays my job was to monitor large groups of dudes because they were always trying to load up on ice and beer displays when they thought nobody was looking.

  3. Pepster says:

    Once they swipe it, they don’t even need the CARD.

    Good call going somewhere else.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Agreed.

      The current PCI regulations are in effect – their register should be configured to allow for a prepay with a credit card – so it will preauthorize the FULL amount, then settle at the final amount after you finish pumping….

    • Bohemian says:

      There is no way I would leave my drivers license with a clerk at a station that is too crappy or cheap to have card scanners at the pump. Sounds too sketchy for me. I wouldn’t leave my card with them either. Talk about a perfect setup for ID theft or for the to quickly buy something with your card while your pumping.
      Seriously, what stations besides the few run down little hole in the wall middle of nowhere ones do not have card scanners on the pumps?

  4. AngryK9 says:

    If someone told me that, I’d take my business elsewhere.

  5. pop top says:

    That’s completely unacceptable.

  6. bikeoid says:

    No – she has no reason to hold it. If unethical, she has plenty of motivation and opportunity to steal IDs and CC numbers.

  7. dwasifar says:

    Aside from the already-mentioned potential of identity theft, there’s the real possibility that she will mix up the licenses when she gives them back to people. How would you like to go to the window to pay, and discover that the last guy just drove away with your license in his wallet?

  8. KillerBee says:

    They do it to help prevent drive-offs. That said, no f’n way.

    I’d love to hear from the one person that has voted yes so far.

    • edman007 says:

      Does not matter, they don’t have drive offs when they require the card first, that first swipe gets your number, they do their identity check, and authorize it for gas (usually checks for $50 or $75). And when you stop pumping they take their money, they don’t need a signiture because the identity check and swipe before you started along with the authorization satisfied all requirements. Its just not possible drive off without paying, the transaction time goes in as the authorization time, so even canceling the card before you start pumping is going to get it charged as the transaction happened before it was canceled, the only way to get rid of it is to dispute it after they get their money.

      • Southern says:

        Actually at most stations that I’ve been to, they DON’T swipe your card (& pre-authorize it) when you give it to them inside the store; they hold onto it, then when you finish pumping and you go back inside, they swipe the card for the actual amount that you pumped.

        At least that’s the way it is in just about every gas station I’ve been to in Mississippi, Louisiana & Texas.

        Last time I’ve done that though was probably 5+ years ago.. These days, if they don’t take the card at the pump, I’ll just drive 2 blocks down the road and find one that does. :)

    • nonsane says:

      I put yes, but only due to me adjusting to this for the time i spent in B.C.
      In B.C. you MUST pay before you get gas(really annoying if you want to fill up) so to fill up you leave your CC with them and then they run it through when you’re done. to leave ID as well doesn’t seem like a huge deal, and i have done this at bars to loan the equipment for free pool

      But it makes sense that people would not want to do it, and it sounds like the clerk was used to it because she gave the cards back right away.

  9. chaesar says:

    haha, as of 9:12 am EST, one person said “Yes” to the poll

  10. Rob says:

    Wouldn’t it be against the law to be in possession of someone else’s ID?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      So we can arrest the police when they take you license at a stop?

    • tbax929 says:

      Wait, what?

      Where did you get that idea? I think it’d be illegal to use someone else’s identity, as in when the police stop you, you can’t pretend your someone else. Also, you can’t use someone else’s ID in order to purchase alcohol, etc.

    • Rob says:

      Upon research, it is a felony in Florida to be in possession of someone else’s state issued driver’s license whether the person intends to use it or not.

  11. Dallas_shopper says:

    I’d go somewhere else to get my gas.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Someplace with pay-at-the-pump. I’m so glad we’re finally at the point where I don’t even have to talk to those people when all I need is gas. Dip the card, pump the gas, and go.

  12. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    To quote Will Smith, Oh, HELL no! When I worked at a gas station, we were supposed to hold someone’s license if they borrowed a gas can. We usually didn’t like doing that, so we would take a $20 deposit on the $5 gas can, and if they skipped out, we would pay for the can, the gas, and buy a meal with the leftover $12. I miss those days.

    • PunditGuy says:

      The poll is sadly missing a “Oh, HELL no!” option.

    • econobiker says:

      Yup, I got a small tool box full of half-azzed tools for $5 because one of the day guys loaned out the ragged out metal 1 gal. gas can filled in exchange for the tool box and the guy skipped.

      Not near as profitable good as refilling the store $2.50 quart oils with our own 69¢ oils but good. The station refilled its own bottles from a drum so they couldn’t notice an occasional change of formula and the consequent off the books cash money changing…

    • madanthony says:

      Assuming it was a 3 gallon gas can, I miss those days too… when gas was $1 a gallon.

    • TimothyT says:

      The funny thing about this, if I pull up and see that there is not a pay-at-the-pump reader, I keep on driving.

  13. TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

    Depends

    I know the workers at a nearby gas station personally. I would have no issue letting THEM hold my cards (we’re friends). That said if a perfect stranger told me that I’d be a drive off – drive off without buying anything.

    • DigitalShawn says:

      If the attendant was your friend, would they really have a need to hold your license? They already know who you are.

  14. Thyme for an edit button says:

    If I were desperate for gas then, yes. Otherwise, no.

  15. knoxblox says:

    Geez. The most a driver’s license is needed for is to check the identification and signature of the buyer against what’s on the card. How is keeping it supposed to help anything besides hold your license for ransom?
    It won’t help with credit card fraud in this type of case because you’ve already pumped the gas when you get it back, so what gives? I’m no lawyer, but wouldn’t it be illegal for a business to collect drivers’ license information (if, in fact this is how they’re trying to bluff criminals)?

  16. RandomHookup says:

    Aren’t there other places that ask to hold onto your ID while you use something? I’m thinking libraries or other places where you take an item away and then return it (but where a credit card isn’t appropriate). Before we were all worried about identity theft, seems like this used to be a common practice.

    • maggiemerc says:

      Yeah, but holding on to your ID AND you credit card? That is not a common practice. They can have one or the other, but never both.

    • pop top says:

      Libraries have library cards.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        And sometimes you lose your card, or don’t have it with you.

        • pop top says:

          So then you can’t check out anything. Sorry.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            You aren’t making any sense. The libraries have a policy that allows you to use your ID to check things out from the library. Patrons don’t have to do it, obviously, but the library rules say you can use your ID. I have no idea how you think that someone not having their library card with them at the moment means they’re barred from checking things out, because the library says they can. Unless you’re trying to imply that everyone should just do everything you say.

            • pop top says:

              There’s also a big difference between leaving a single piece of ID with someone and leaving a credit card plus an ID. I don’t even know why you’re arguing with me anyway. Damn.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I have had to leave my ID to allow access to a special room before. Not everyone will have a library card for that particular library (or even be eligible for one), but some special items (very old books), for example, require some system to safeguard. Not saying it’s always the best system, but I’m sure there are places where you still get asked to leave your ID as security.

      • jenl1625 says:

        Oddly enough, the actual card isn’t necessary at my library. They’ve got keyfobs for those who can’t memorize the numbers, but I can do all my on-line reserving as well as the checking out by simply typing in my card number and a pin. The actual card never leaves my wallet.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I don’t know how libraries in other places work but I’ve never had to use my driver’s license at a library. I have a library card and even that just gets scanned; they don’t keep it.

      I’ve never had to just leave my license with anyone and the only situation I’ve heard of where people do that is when going for a test drive. (Even that I find baffling and hadn’t heard of before finding this site.)

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I’ve used my license at the library before. When I was younger, I lost my library card quite often and the librarian looked at my license to verify that I actually had an account. I never left it with them, and it was only to verify my information.

    • robocop is bleeding says:

      At my library, we only take student ID cards. Under no circumstances do I let my student employees hold driver’s licenses or credit cards, despite the number of people who try to offer them up as alternate collateral. I mean, would you trust a disinterested student at a chaotic checkout desk who is only working to earn a bit of extra cash with access to your identity or credit?

      A student ID, if lost, is a hassle that can be replaced at the library’s expense. A lost license or credit card? Forgetaboutit.

    • JonStewartMill says:

      I’ve had equipment rental places make a photocopy of my DL. When I bring back the equipment they return the photocopy for me to destroy.

    • DoubleBaconVeggieBurger says:

      I’ve had to leave my ID to use darts or billiard balls at a bar before. Never thought much about it, but I wouldn’t want to leave my ID with a gas station attendant.

    • Timbojones says:

      If you rent a scooter in Thailand, they keep your passport until you return the scooter.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      In Austin good luck touring an apartment for rent without leaving your ID with the rental office first.

  17. tmac40 says:

    I can’t believe 2% of people here would do this. I hope they just didn’t understand the wording and clicked the wrong box. Unless you want to spend hours and hours of life untangling identity theft you should never do this. Ever. For any reason.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      C’mon, you know there’s a few “Just give her your license and don’t make a damn scene, ya big baby. Takes two seconds. Friggen drama queen wants attention, wants to give the poor minimum wage worker a hard time so he can feel like a big shot. Sheesh, Consumerist, you call this a story?” people out there….

  18. drburk says:

    Would willfully handing over your Credit Card and Driver’s license void identity theft protection?

    • tbax929 says:

      I have ID theft protection, and I’ve never read such a requirement. Similarly, my auto insurance would still pay a theft claim if I left my car running with the keys in it and someone stole my car. They wouldn’t be happy about it, mind you, but they’d still pay.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Maybe not. They’re a merchant so it’s not like you shouldn’t be handing them your credit card for a transaction and I don’t know if the terms and conditions would even mention your driver’s license.

      If you handed your CC over to someone you’re not in a transaction with and they buy stuff with it you’d be responsible for that.

  19. qbubbles says:

    I’m pretty cool when it comes to stuff like this, but there would be no way I would leave both things with someone I didnt know. I’d say, “ol well” and drive on to another station.

  20. backinpgh says:

    If they already have your credit card, then how can you drive off? I don’t understand what they are preventing here…

  21. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I voted “no” but I can think of a lot of situations in which I’ve left my ID as collateral. I think the difference between leaving it at a gas station and leaving it with say, an apartment leasing office, is that I know the employees and they know I’m a resident.

    One time, I was in a team merchandise shop and I wanted to try on a shirt. The store wanted me to leave my ID because the bathrooms (they didn’t have their own fitting room) were on the second level, and collateral was to keep people from running off with the merchandise. I was okay with this, not so much because I’m okay with leaving my ID with people, but because I understood why they wanted collateral. I would’ve preferred to leave something else, but everything has some kind of personal information on it. A credit card would’ve been worse, IMO. I’m wondering whether someone with a valid driver’s license can get an ID card (if it didn’t have a bar code) and leave that instead.

    • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

      The point is the leaving your credit card AND your ID unattended with the same person…. is a bad idea.

    • AllanG54 says:

      I would have paid for the shirt and if it didn’t fit then return it. Do this enough times and I’ll bet they’ll find someplace to build a fitting room.

  22. Bob Lu says:

    I don’t see how it further prevent identity theft and/or drive-off?

    They authorize your credit card before you pump, just like pay at the pump, so it should be perfectly fine if you just drive off after you fill the tank, no?

  23. Griking says:

    A self serve gas station that doesn’t have pay at the pump?

    • Extractor says:

      I drive a convertible and only pay at the pump. If the pump screws up or doesnt print a reciept, I have to put the roof up and lock it in order to go inside. Not risking anything and Im pissed about having to do that and Im sure from my attitude they get my drift.

    • jamar0303 says:

      Surprisingly enough, consumers aren’t the only ones that are… under-equipped.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Agreed. I don’t mind paying before I pump, but if your pump doesn’t have the card reader, I go elsewhere.

      Who wants to go and wait in line twice with every other customer that’s going in to wait in line twice?

  24. tbax929 says:

    I would have walked away, just like the OP did. Then I would have called to report a violation of the merchant agreement.

    People laugh when we talk about slippery slopes, but this is not all that surprising when you consider how many people have no problem showing their ID, showing their receipt, etc. Maybe next week we’ll get a story about a merchant that won’t let you enter the premises without allowing a scan of your driver’s license (you know, just in case something happens).

  25. fs2k2isfun says:

    I wouldn’t have shown her my ID in the first place.

  26. Bodger says:

    I certainly wouldn’t. Your credit card and your driver’s license information work synergystically — the person holding both is pretty much home free for any sort of fraud they want.

  27. Jeff says: "WTF could you have been thinking?" says:

    The only I have ever left my license was after pumping gas and discovering I had no cash in my pocket. I had to leave my license while I went to the nearest ATM. Good thing I didn’t get pulled over.

  28. Whtthfgg says:

    Its just like the bowling alley keeping one of your shoes so you dont walk off with theirs…..would I do it…In the vast majority of cases, hell no!

  29. katarzyna says:

    “The station I stopped at did not have a pay-at-the-pump credit card reader”

    I would have driven to the next station that did.

  30. mandy_Reeves says:

    i eat lots of fiber and make my own gas at home…..

  31. kevslim says:

    Yeah, it’s one thing to check your ID when you make a purchase, but holding it? No dice.

  32. keith4298 says:

    I use my conceal carry license for those types of things and tell them it’s not legal to let it out of my possession! Usually gets the point across.

  33. The Marionette says:

    Nope. And if they don’t let me get gas because of that I’d just go to the next station, common sense.

  34. EcPercy says:

    You did the right thing. NO reason for them to want to hold your license. Plenty of other gas stations out there that have the ability to pay at the pump.

  35. tweeder82o says:

    i’d say: i’ll hold on to my license and wait inside while YOU go and pump my gas then

  36. tape says:

    I’m curious who the 27 people who voted “yes” are. I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell them.

  37. Zen says:

    That’s unnecessary for the purposes of securing payment, which is really the only legitimate reason they would have. Accordingly, it looks really suspicious that they are gathering the information for illegitimate purposes.

  38. IThinkThereforeIAm says:

    I remember before the time they had at-pump card readers, it was standard policy to hold the card while you pumped. (And they swiped it after you were done).
    However, I never heard of (and most certainly wouldn’t allow them to) hold my license as well.

    Maybe next time they will want your SSN?

    • VermilionSparrow says:

      Even then, I asked them to charge a certain amount, leave with the card, go pump my gas, then only go back inside if a refund was necessary. I’m not leaving my credit card anywhere.

  39. MercuryPDX says:

    I’ve been to gas stations with no card reader in the pumps that request that you pay first. You go in, charge an amount to cover it on your card that may (or may not) fill it up, then go back in to have them refund the difference. No need to hold a license or worry about drive-offs.

  40. Rachacha says:

    “I’m from the NYC area and I am currently visiting Miami…and I was initially surprised to discover how many merchants here in Miami ask to see your driver’s license when making a purchase “

    If this is a local Miami thing, perhaps it is because they are afraid that the illegal immigrants from Puerto Rico will drive to Miami, fill up their cars and skip out without paying!
    /sarcasm

  41. buddyedgewood says:

    This is a red flag for id theft! But I learned this the hard way. I handed over my CC and drivers license to a bartender when he rang me up for drinks at a strip club in Las Vegas. The following week I had a ton of unauthorized purchases, I had to cancel the card. I’m still (after 3 years) getting junk mail from a Las Vegas area cable TV company, with whom I’ve never done business. Never, ever hand over your DL with your CC, even for a second. Hold your DL so they can compare the name and picture, but that’s it!

  42. Grungo says:

    Ironically, leaving the credit card puts one at much worse risk than leaving the DL. But no way in heck am I leaving the DL.

  43. evnmorlo says:

    Never heard of this, but giving your license up as security for various things isn’t uncommon (even when license numbers were often your SSN). If you are using a credit card they probably have access to your address anyway, so I don’t know how much privacy is being lost

  44. Eilonwynn says:

    Had that happen in Colorado at a Shell when we were on vacation. I will no longer buy gas at Shell because of the way they handled it.

  45. Winteridge2 says:

    I just stopped going to “service stations” (remember those?) that want to hold my license or credit card or demand that I prepay. How do I know how much gas I will need? If they cannot trust me, they can pump my gas and I will pay at the pump. Just go elsewhere.

  46. VermilionSparrow says:

    Easy fix: act like the card is cash. Tell them “$amount on pump x”, they run the card and hand it back to you. Go pump your gas. If you didn’t use up all the amount, go back in for receipt/refund. I’ve never left my credit card with the attendant, even before card readers installed in pumps were common.

  47. TPA says:

    No, absolutely not! If it were anything but a gas station I’d claim I didn’t have a driver’s license.

  48. kobresia says:

    I would prefer not to leave my license with a clerk, but I can certainly understand it in locations that have suffered a lot of drive-offs. Pre-payment is a better way to handle that situation, though.

    Or tire spikes. Or force everyone to drive through the car wash in order to exit the station. If you don’t pay, that’s when the soft foam spinny brushes retract, and the chain flail spinny brushes come out. That might not buff out. ;)

  49. Roe says:

    We used to do that at a very busy gas station in a different state (gas a lot cheaper). So we’d cross the state line, and if we wanted to fill up, then they would take our keys or DL and they had a separate cubby hole box (like in a roll top desk) and the cubbies were labeled for the given gas pump. They only did this for cash payers. Worked for many years and had absolutely no problem. Then one day there was a sign that said they could no longer do that and you had to pay an “estimate” before pumping. I don’t pay cash anymore so it doesn’t matter. But again, I never had a single problem with it.

  50. AnonymousCoward says:

    I might hand the cards to a cashier, but I don’t let either one of those cards out of my sight. Ever. Which usually means I end up paying cash at restaurants, but the peace of mind is worth it.

    Additionally, if it’s a debit card, I don’t even hand it to a cashier. My debit card never even leaves my hand.

    It sounds like the cashier has some sort of ID theft operation going on.

  51. Losiris says:

    I’ve never had to do this at a gas station, but it’s pretty standard at bars and pubs with free darts/pool/foozeball. You leave your ID and they give you a cue or darts or whatever. Since I run a tab, they already have my CC. Does this make me stupid and gullible? Not really.

    I guess people are more trusting of a random bartender than they are of a gas station attendant. Go social profiling!

  52. lenagainster says:

    I wouldn’t even leave my credit card with the attendant. No reader, no business from me.

  53. okvol says:

    Saw this at a truck stop in southwest Kansas about two weeks ago. It was a truck driver, not me. Clerk said it was to prevent fraud, that folks had been using someone else’s card. At least that was the excuse given.

  54. Bernardo says:

    I vist florida alot and have been there but never has this happend.

  55. sopmodm14 says:

    i think its a confusing situation

    the merchant wants to avoid pump-and-run, which doesn’t make sense, since its pre-paid before filling up….and the consumer who is cautious about identity theft

    at the end of the day, the gas station lost a sale, and the customer was inconvenienced a bit

    it would be ironic if an identity thief complied, and gave up a victim’s cards and proceeded on his/her way

  56. dggriffi says:

    It would be nice if they would stop redacting the business names. It helps to know who is doing it.

  57. alamochica says:

    I am also in the Hell No! camp.

    I’ve walked out of gas stations that have tried to do this with me and have taken my business elsewhere. It’s interesting to see the faces of the workers who seem to think like it’s perfectly normal to hang onto a drivers license or credit card. My question to the readers is this: if you have to leave one or the other (drivers license or credit card), which do you leave?

    It’s gotten to the point where if I don’t see the credit card reader on the pump, I don’t bother to stop.

  58. FrugalFreak says:

    all the time here to prevent unpaid drive offs. they hold ID for people who are filling up.

  59. bwcbwc says:

    Giving a random attendant more than 30 seconds alone with both my D/L and a credit card? No way. If they want to pre-auth my credit card to prevent a drive-away, that’s fine.

  60. wild7s says:

    Not just no, HELL NO!