LEAKS: Amex Document Shows Proof of ID Check Is Not Required For Chargebacks

Reader W writes in in response to the so-called “retail manager” who said that credit card companies require video proof of cashiers checking ID.

That quote is absolutely wrong. I worked for [redacted] for 3 years as their Merchant Fraud Control Analyst, and now I work for a retail company handling all chargeback situations. Basically, if someone disputes a charge for any reason then I’m the person the bank/Amex gets in touch with.

My point is, look at the attachment this is what a retailer gets in fraud case from Amex (for MC and Visa its not much different). No where does it say proof of ID…and how the heck would one send video in the allotted time anyway? Just thought you guys would like a copy of the real thing.

(ed. note —We redacted the hell out of this document.)



Edit Your Comment

  1. TheDude06 says:

    Thank you! I have responded to many of those forms. Why on earth would you believe some ‘manager’ who directly contradicts visa/mc/amex documents available on their website in the first place!

  2. trickonion says:

    Duh, I can’t believe you guys even published that letter yesterday, bad form!

  3. Nakko says:

    I used to work retail, and of course, I just did whatever my manager told me. My manager told me that Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express all demanded ID checks, so we had to, so I did.
    One day a guy offered an Amex to me and I asked for ID like the good little robot I was. He declined. (Only time someone ever said no to that.) I said well, then you’ll have to pay cash, since that’s the only way we don’t check for ID. He declined again. He claimed I was racist because he was black and I was white and I wanted to give him a hard time. I said no sir, my manager instructed me to check all ID’s. She came out and confirmed the policy, tried to calm him down.

    Turned out it wasn’t his Amex.

  4. DashTheHand says:

    @Nakko: How did it “turn out that it wasn’t his Amex?”

    Thats like saying, “Well I went to the store the other day, and they were out of eggs. I went across the street to this other store to see if they had any. Long story short, turns out I’m the Prince of Belgium.”

  5. mrbiggsndatx says:

    if the shoe fits…….

  6. Wormfather says:

    @DashTheHand: I lol’d.

  7. enm4r says:

    @DashTheHand: More like saying. “….turns out, I didn’t need eggs anyway.”

    But yeah, bad form on the story yesterday. It was obviously incorrect on many fronts. I hope you have a blacklist of fake sources to add that “manager’s” name to.

  8. Balisong says:

    Oh hey, that’s what I just ranted about on the previous post. Ta-da!

  9. stephenjames716 says:

    I noticed as soon as I moved to LA from Western New York they checked my id everywhere. I have a mastercard debit card. I jut got used to it.

  10. ConnertheCat says:


    Well, you can be the prince once you foward me some cash to secure your place on the throne. Just email me some bank routing numbers and we’ll get you setup, your royal highness…

  11. JasonKeiderling says:

    I see your point, but you’re exaggerating. He could have left out a boring part of the conversation where the guy said it was his girlfriend/fathers/etc. and for that reason couldn’t show ID. It may have just been poor editing.

  12. Nakko says:

    @DashTheHand: Eh, in that case it was not stolen or anything, the actual owner of the Amex was there in the store and everything got settled all proper-like, and the purchase was made, with that Amex even. He gave me a real hard time though. Could have been avoided for everyone involved if we knew the true cardholder policy.

  13. johnva says:

    @TheDude06: I think the “manager” who submitted the earlier story was someone who completely made that story up. Like I said in my first comment there, I’m not going to take their word for it based purely on an anecdote. If you want me to believe you that credit card companies force merchants to check ID, you had better provide solid proof of that. Especially since their story directly contradicts the credit card company websites.

  14. ladycrumpet says:

    I don’t mind being asked for my ID when I make a purchase. I don’t want the merchant writing that information down, but just to verify that the name on the card and the ID, and signatures match, is ok by me.

    It’s that whole being asked to pull out my receipt when I’m leaving the store that still irks me. :P

  15. darkened says:

    @ladycrumpet: Just because they don’t write it down in front of you doesn’t mean they don’t the moment you leave

  16. nacio says:

    finally a rebuttal to that post about video ID verification.

  17. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    While I do agree that the retail manager dude was probably full of crap, this letter doesn’t help any, since it sounds like the charges were made online. Of course there would be no video proof of the customer’s ID being checked.

  18. johnva says:

    I just thought of another hole in this theory that merchants have to check ID: what happens with business credit cards? For a previous job, I sometimes had to use a company credit card to buy stuff, and it didn’t have my name on it. It just said the name of the company. How was a clerk supposed to determine whether I was authorized to use that card? The answer is, they can’t, and it’s not their job to try. Just like it’s not their job to try to determine whether I’m not authorized to use a personal card. The real issue is lack of authorization to use the account, not detection of identity theft (the latter isn’t their job). The merchant’s only responsibility is to follow the Visa/MC/Amex/whatever procedures that protect them from being responsible for fraud.

  19. Radoman says:

    I don’t know, I’m not ready to disbelieve the whole story from yesterday. Different cards might have different policies for different stores. There are an awful lot of credit card companies out there. We have no idea where either of these guys work. I wonder if a chargeback for say, an online purchase or some other place without a camera, might not be an entirely different procedure than a normal brick and mortar store.

    Different stores also have different loss prevention methods based on local crime rates. I’ll bet this applies to credit card companies too.

    Ya know, they don’t lock up the razor blades and infant formula in lower crime areas like they do in the ghetto. Why wouldn’t credit card companies have different policies for different areas? Seems reasonable….

  20. Wormfather says:

    @Radoman: Because the credit card companies and the banks that issue them have first and most important concern is acceptance. There is nothing more important than that. The risks of fraud are greatly outweighed by the profits of mass acceptance. The only time fraud becomes a problem (for the most part) is in gambling establishments, adult content establishments and any establishment once there is colusion on the on the side of the merchant, typically via an employee.

    For the banks, what they lose in fraud is a drop in the bucket compared to what they write off for bad credit card debts. $600 million and up.

  21. felixgolden says:

    Only since recently moving to Florida have I’ve been asked for ID when using a credit card, and then only in stores where I suspect a high rate of fraud occurs. No one writes anything down, they just glance at the name and picture. Fine by me.

    As far as different policies for different merchants, transaction fees differ depending on how the card information is obtained because of the perce4ntage of chargebacks for those different methods. For example, the merchant gets charged a higher transaction fee for manually keying in a card number versus swiping a physical card.

  22. johnva says:

    @Radoman: Credit card companies DO have different policies for many different types of transactions, like online, card-present, pay-at-pump gas, etc. They also charge merchants different percentages for each, presumably because of the higher rates of fraud for different types of transactions. All these stories are referring to card-present transactions. And for THAT type of transaction, his story is contradicted by the published policies. This, combined with a) the fact that his story sounds very impractical, b) he hasn’t showed up to defend himself from all negative comments doubting his story, and c) the fact that he provides no evidence beyond his anecdote that he is correct, lead me to believe that he lying to us or seriously misinformed.

    My guess is that this is just a “policy” of his store. The credit card companies DO hit the merchants for fraudulent charges if they have too many of them occurring or they don’t follow proper procedure, which seems reasonable. After all, you shouldn’t open a store that openly caters to fraudsters and then expect the credit card companies to eat the cost of all the fraud.

  23. Radoman says:

    @Wormfather: That’s true. Acceptance is all, but I’m sure the ghetto stores sell less razor blades too, due to them being locked up.

    What I’m saying is, if the credit card companies lose enough money through one location, they’d be crazy not to beef up security standards for that store. Acceptable loss is one thing, but everyone works on the bottom line if they want to stay employed.

  24. ladycrumpet says:

    @darkened: And the average cashier is going to memorize the number for my driver’s license? My address? DOB?

  25. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Hey, I thought I was the prince of Belgium. Fuck.

    I think stores are getting better about this though. I refused to show ID at a local mall store the other day (because I didn’t have it) and they said “OK”. Maybe I just got a cashier who knows whats up, but I was impressed.

  26. Radoman says:

    @johnva: Okay, so if they DO hit retailers for fraudulent charges or for not following proper procedure, why wouldn’t they change the rules for problematic retailers?

    I’m not saying whether the guys story is true or false. I just don’t feel like there’s enough info to make a call either way.

  27. johnva says:

    @Radoman: They don’t change the rules because they have no reason to do so. If their percentage of fraudulent transaction exceeds some threshold, then they lose the privilege of having the credit card companies eat the cost of fraud. Then it’s the store’s problem. What this means, practically, is that you may not be able to stay in the business you are in if it inherently involves a lot of people trying to defraud you. But that’s really partly your fault for being in such a business, and I don’t see why the credit card companies should enable merchants who are the source of a huge amount of fraud complaints (especially since that might be a sign of a corrupt merchant or a merchant who is colluding with customers to rip off the credit card issuers).

    So it’s possible that merchants are doing this because they have such a high fraud rate that the credit card companies are making it the merchant’s problem. But that doesn’t meant that they can rightfully violate the merchant agreement. It just means that they might have more incentive to do so.

    The real solution to all of this is for the credit card companies to move towards better authentication technology like (at the very least) requiring PIN entry to use a credit card for card-present transactions.

  28. nacio says:

    @ladycrumpet: i guess people can’t memorize license plates either

  29. ladycrumpet says:

    @nacio: If you have incentive, like you’ve just suffered a hit and run, sure. But for a cashier making minimum wage who’s got a line of customers to check out?

    Anyway, whatever. Even if they do write down the info I’ll still have to keep tabs because there’s always the risk of fraud and identity theft.

  30. FLConsumer says:

    @ladycrumpet: Average, no, but the average cashier is honest. It’s the dishonest ones I worry about and yes, they can memorize that quickly enough to make use of it.

  31. PabloPablo says:

    The only question I have regarding this issue, is how about the Point of Purchase merchant companies? Most small businesses don’t have direct credit facilities with the credit card companies (AMEX, VISA, MC) they get accounts with a merchant company that provides the service.

    Could there be stipulations that the merchant company requires ID? Or that they allow people the have minimums (ie allow the business to charge a fee if it’s under 10 bucks, etc.)?

  32. ladycrumpet says:

    @FLConsumer: That’s true. Again, if you have incentive…but that doesn’t mean you have to have a good one, sadly enough!

  33. Radoman says:

    @johnva: Well, you obviously know this stuff better than I do, and you’re convinced the guy’s fulla baloney. I accept that. I’ve had the credit card companies change the rules on me before, so it makes me receptive to the idea that they might do it to a merchant.

    With the rules for credit as complex as they are, consumerist gets a pass from me if the other story turns out fake. This site does way too much good in the world to get very upset about a single misprint. (in my opinion)

    Thanks for the informed replys.

  34. matto says:

    Am I the only one bothered that this jackhole apparently emailed consumerist a document full of someone’s credit card info??

  35. Paul says:

    Agreed. Regardless of what Visa or MC say, remember that the consumer disputing the charge has called their bank, not Visa, and the company that processed the charge at a small retail shop is the equivalent of Paypal without all the personal attention. Visa doesn’t give consumers credit cards…hundreds of individual providers do, and I do not think it’s so beyond the realm of possibility that a lot of these smaller operations get it wrong. Bottom line, it’s easy to blame the retailer because it’s the face you see, but it’s not like cashiers are the only people in the transaction chain that could possibly be making up a stupid rule because that’s how they thought things should happen.

  36. SuperJdynamite says:

    Does Consumerist have any type of fact and/or source checking policy?

  37. Wormfather says:

    @PabloPablo: The contract a merchant has with a processor is superceded by the rules of the credit card company, ie. MC/Visa/Amex, and those rules state that they are not allowed to charge a fee for using a credit card nor or they allowed to have minimums, if you dont like the fact they a customer is charging $3.00 to the card, find, just dont accept credit cards and all is well.

    Also, a merchant is allowed to ask for ID, they just cant have it as a requirment.

  38. Wormfather says:

    @matto: it is possible that the person emailed them the document with the CC info blacked out, but the editors blacked over it again to make it “tv pretty”…I doubt someone would be stupid enough to email a CC number to a stranger.

  39. krom says:

    Interestingly enough. I have a BOA debit card with my picture on it. 99.9% of the time this preempts merchants from asking me to show ID — my picture on the card matching the picture on my face confirms for them the card is mine, perhaps even better than the supplementary-card method does.

    But this past weekend despite having a photo debit card, the cashier at Fry’s noted the picture on the card but *still* asked for ID. I didn’t protest, but I did complain that “that’s usually enough everywhere else”. “I know, but we’re supposed to” was all he said.

  40. MsFeasance says:

    @SuperJdynamite: If their policy is anything like that of the parent blog, Gawker, probably not, judging by the last sentence of this story.

    But, consumerist, I wouldn’t mind knowing what your policy is.

  41. Okaasan says:

    (ed. note -We redacted the hell out of this document.)

    No kidding, Meg. This looks like a government document available through the Freedom of Information Act.

  42. ecwis says:

    @PatrickIs2Smart: What makes you think it’s for an online transaction? Simply because he accesses the chargeback information online?

  43. Custom Reality says:

    I would rather they asked for an ID than not, especially if my credit card is stolen. I would be pissed if people used my stolen credit card and they got away with it because the store wouldn’t take a minute to check the person’s ID.

  44. WNW says:


    Your majesty, why are you wasting time here? There a waffles to be made!

  45. ihateauditions says:

    @ladycrumpet: The problem isn’t what the average one will do.

    If I was a dishonest person, I’d almost definitely work retail, and check ID. For under $1k, I could build a box that would capture all your personal data in a single swipe. If that couldn’t fly for some reason, I sure as hell could remember your DL#, and then write it down right after the transaction is complete.

    Just watch jewelry, handbag, watch and shoes to spot the wealthy ones, gather them up, and then go on an identity theft spree a year later.

  46. ecwis says:

    @Custom Reality: Are you illiterate?

  47. eskimo81 says:

    Well, I can tell you from experience, that my company has been forced by VISA and MASTERCARD before to foot the bill on items we had a signature for.

    What happened is that we were presented with a fake card, and the signature we received did not match the signature on the real card.

    We’ve been burned before, and with ID checks, we haven’t been. You can call me a liar, a crook or whatever you want for doing it, but I’m going to continue, and if you don’t like it, you’re welcome to shop elsewhere.

    I have had 2 complaints out of thousands with this policy.

  48. ecwis says:

    @eskimo81: Why don’t you just do what you agreed to in your contract? Compare the signatures.

  49. bombaxstar says:

    @darkened: do you need a tin foil hat too?


  50. m4nea says:

    @DashTheHand: are you seriously retarded?

  51. Michael Belisle says:

    @eskimo81: I don’t doubt that you got stuck with a charge from Visa. But I do doubt that it’s as simple as you say.

    How would they know it doesn’t match “the real signature”? No credit card company has ever seen the signature on my card. You get the card, you sign it, and put it in your wallet. The only signatures they have from me are the ones on receipts.

    And how do you know the card was fake? I could get my card and sign it “George W. Bush”. I’d be an asshole, but it’s a real card. The signature is invalid, and you’re expected to notice that it doesn’t match the name on the card.

    I won’t call you any of the names you mentioned, but I might report you to Visa.

  52. Hambriq says:

    Meh. I don’t understand why Consumerist posts those “Confessions of…” letters anyway. 90% of the information is painfully obvious, and the other 10% is a mix of either corporate flag-waving, biased opinions, beseeching the rest of us to act a certain way in a certain situation, etc. etc. Every so often, I will find a bit of useful information, but not really.

    Maybe I’m just bitter because I’ve always considered writing, ‘Confessions From Behind the Pharmacy Counter’. It would be one sentence long: “Don’t complain about waiting for your prescription, it’s better than the alternative.”

    Oh, okay, I’d throw in a second sentence. “Medicare Part D makes my life and your life a living hell.”

  53. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Michael Belisle:
    According to people at [creditboards.com] it is actually easier to report them to MasterCard. They let you do it online: [www.mastercard.com]

    OT: I like the new layout but now the Greasemonkey script isn’t working.

  54. Uh, I think Consumerist is missing the real story here. Who cares if ID is required by AmEx or not? Even if a credit card company doesn’t require it, that doesn’t mean a vendor can’t ask for ID.

    But screw that.

    An employee of a retail company who is authorized to handle sensitive and personally identifying information for customers released such data, clearly without authorization, to the Consumerist. Which promptly released it to the Internet at large.

    1) That violates the terms of service the merchant has with AmEx, as well as the Payment Card Industry standard for keeping customer payment card information secret.

    2) Depending on the state the retail employee is in, this may violate Federal laws. At the very least, it violates New York’s Data Breach Notification law (unless Consumerist has notified the customer who’s information was in that statement).