Many people wonder whether merchants have the right to ask for ID when you use your credit card. Some people are happy to have their ID checked, since it is less likely that a card will be used fraudulently. Others are unhappy with providing additional information, especially if a merchant writes down their name, address, or phone number on credit card slips. There are a number of different laws that govern whether a merchant can ask for ID, some provided by credit card companies, and others that may be applicable in the state in which you live.
Most Mastercard and Visa credit cards actually have merchant provisions that say a merchant cannot refuse a credit card if a person refuses to provide ID beyond their signature on the back of the card. These companies also ban slips that would require a customer to fill out their name, address and phone number. The standard rule is that merchants may ask for ID, but they can’t refuse the card if a person doesn’t provide that ID. They also can’t ask for specific forms of ID; a student ID or a Costco card with your picture on it is just as valid as a state ID.
Depending upon the state in which you live, certain other merchant activities are banned. Retailers may be prohibited by state law and cannot even ask for ID, unless your card says "see ID," though this varies from region to region. Many states also ban refusing cards when ID is not presented, and prohibit writing down any personal information gleaned from ID cards and the security code on the back of credit cards. Salespeople are also usually not allowed to write your telephone number on a credit card slip. Merchants are often unaware of these restrictions, and if you feel strongly about not presenting ID when you use a credit card, your best defense is bringing a copy of your state code, and your credit card company’s rules, with appropriate passages highlighted.
There are some exceptions when merchants can ask for ID in order to complete a purchase with a credit card. If you are purchasing alcohol, tobacco or anything else that requires you to be a certain age, a store may ask for ID. The store still can’t write down identifying things like your driver’s license or home number on credit card slips.
The only time writing down this information, or asking for ID as a condition of purchase is legal, in most states, is if you are purchasing something that will be delivered to your home. In this case, a merchant may require your address and phone number so that items can be appropriately delivered. Under other circumstances though, most merchants, when you physically present your card to them, can do no more than ask you to sign your card. Failure to provide your signature, may void sales and allow a merchant to refuse a sale.