You’ve no doubt had this experience: you’re checking out at a store and are asked for your ID at checkout when you use a credit card, perhaps if the purchase is over a certain amount. You might even have a policy about this at your own store.
Is it legal for businesses to ask for ID?
Yes, it is absolutely legal. However, card networks have rules that stores must abide by when it comes to dealing with verification. These rules vary depending on whether or not a signature appears on the back of the card.
Visa & Mastercard’s policy is that if the card is unsigned, the merchant must ask that the card be signed and that the customer provide government ID. If the card is signed, the merchant is not allowed to require ID.
Visa’s policy is that “merchants cannot as part of their regular card acceptance procedures refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID.” Visa’s advice to merchants: if a cardholder looks suspicious, the merchant should make a Code 10 authorization request call that alerts the card issuer to suspicious activity without alerting the customer.
“A merchant must not refuse to complete a transaction solely because a cardholder refuses to provide additional identification information,” says MasterCard. It even has a special page on its website that cardholders can report to them when merchants do this.