Soon You Won’t Have to Sign Credit Card Receipts

Using signatures to verify a purchase dates back to the Roman Empire, but it’s ending in America—when it comes to credit cards, at least.

American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa will all stop requiring signatures for credit card purchases this month, meaning it’s up to individual stores to decide whether to ask for them or not. Large chains including Target and Wal-Mart have already opted not to.

Which is good news: signatures are useless for verifying identity, as Stacy Cowley demonstrates writing for the New York Times:

For nearly a decade, Doug Taylor, a sales manager who travels often for work, has signed credit card receipts with a doodle of a dog wagging its tail. No cashier has ever rejected his “signature” as invalid.

Stories like this are common. No one checks your signature anymore, because there are better tools for detecting fraud. Chip readers, which create unique codes for every transaction, go a long way, as does data analysis.

Smaller shops might take longer to make the change, and be patient with them: many don’t have chip detectors installed yet. But it’s only a matter of time until you can stop picking up pens in stores.

Justin Pot is the News Editor for How-To Geek. He lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, if you want. You don't have to.