Have 'See ID' on your credit card? It's not a great idea

SEATTLE -- Many people sign "See ID" on the back of their credit cards in hopes of avoiding identity theft.

The idea is the cashier will see the note and require the buyer to show ID, matching the name on the card with the name on the ID.

But it doesn't always work like that.

Most banking institutions advise against writing "See ID" or keeping the back of a card blank, Q13 News has found.

According to creditcards.com, a credit card comparison and information site, merchants rarely look at the back of cards. Newer technologies don't require a buyer to hand over their card, and most credit card networks have a "no signature required" program, creditcards.com reports, meaning a clerk would rarely even see the card to ask for ID.

An official with BECU says the credit union always recommends signing the back of a credit card with the owner's legal name. Not only does it provide a comparison between signatures, the official says, it also helps protect consumers if the transaction is deemed to be fraudulent.

An unsigned credit card is also not considered valid in most cases. According to a Visa regulation, "a refusal to sign means the card is invalid and cannot be accepted."

A majority of credit card fraud comes from massive data breaches, creditcards.com reports, saying a lost or stolen credit card is one of the less likely ways identities are stolen.

Writing "See ID" on the back of a card is not a new practice, of course. In 2007, the Denver Post wrote a story opposing the practice, saying it gave people a "false sense" of security.

BECU officials say those who are a victim of credit theft should take important steps such as reporting the fraud and freezing accounts.