Paying By Card? You Might Not Need to Sign

You may not have to sign for your in-store credit or debit card purchases. Here are four things to know about the change.

Signing for your credit or debit card purchases is going the way of the dinosaurs, due to advances in card technology. Merchants are no longer required by the card networks (Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover) to confirm purchases by obtaining a signature. 

woman using a credit card to make a purchase in a store

Here are four things to know about the change

  1. Signatures aren’t the best way to spot fraudsters. For years, signatures served as proof that you made a purchase and agreed to pay the amount charged. But you may have noticed that your signature isn’t always checked when you make a purchase. “In theory, your signature on a receipt or pen pad and the back of your card should match. If they don’t, it could be a tip off that you’re not the card owner,” said Trevor Buxton, a fraud communications manager and Certified Fraud Examiner with PNC Bank. “There are a few problems here: one is that people typically scribble down a few letters that resemble their name (rather than a full signature), while another is that retailers don’t verify the signatures and don’t require them for all purchases.”
  2. Dip (or swipe) your chip. The wide use of chip cards, which you insert or dip into a payment reader rather than swipe, also has helped make signatures obsolete. The chip enhances card security because it generates a unique transaction code, which is shared with the merchant. This makes the card difficult to copy and helps to reduce fraud. Mobile wallets [1] – smartphone apps where you can store your debit and credit card information – also use similar technology to help reduce fraud, and both are generally considered more secure than signing for a purchase, Buxton said.
  3. No signing may mean faster lines. Now more than ever, people are on the go and in a hurry. Pausing to sign a receipt may not take long, but when every person ahead of you in line has to do it, that time can add up. Card issuers expect that removing the signature requirement can help you get in, get out and get on with your day faster.
  4. Merchants make the call. While the card networks no longer require merchants to obtain signatures for chip card purchases, some merchants may still require your signature.


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Trevor Buxton
Trevor Buxton is a fraud communications manager and Certified Fraud Examiner with PNC Bank

Did you know?

  • When you use your PNC Bank Visa credit or debit card at a chip-enabled terminal, the embedded chip creates a unique transaction code that is shared with the merchant. This makes it difficult to copy the card.
  • Your PNC Bank Visa card comes with PNC security & privacy, 24-hour fraud monitoring and Zero Liability Fraud Protection[2].
  • If your card or card number is ever lost or stolen, you will not be responsible for unauthorized charges on your account if you notify PNC promptly[3].


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