Swiped - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Swiped

By Mark Thornhill - bio | email
Posted by Dana Franks - email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - When you buy something using your credit card, does the clerk ever ask you for identification, or do you just sign and go? With identity theft running rampant in the United States, WAFF 48 News decided to put Mark Thornhill's credit card in someone else's hands and with someone else's signature.

With his coworker, WAFF 48 News producer Beth Ridgeway, doing the shopping, the first stop was at Wal-Mart. Beth burned the aisles for the basics, picking up nothing fancy or expensive. And there were no questions as she went to check out, swiping Mark's card, signing her name, and hopefully opening your eyes.

The next target was, well, Target. The goal there was to up the ante a bit with a 20-minute shopping spree. But would the fun end at the checkout counter? No. Target missed the mark, and no one batted an eye at Beth's signature on the receipt.

But how about a more expensive stop to shop? Would Bed, Bath and Beyond be beyond Beth's reach with Mark's card? You'd hope so. But that hope took a bath, along with the credit card.

The man behind the counter took the card and swiped it. Then he at least looked at the signature, but he didn't do or say anything except to give her back Mark's card and say, "have a nice day." 

At the last stop, Beth turned on the electricity, so to speak, at H.H. Gregg. Only two items were purchased, but they were big-ticket electronic items. But still there was no static, and Beth found Mark's plastic was fantastic.

In four stops, there were zero problems for Beth, but not the same for Mark. At Wal-Mart, Beth spent $133.24. At Target, Beth's target was golfing supplies, since Mark loves golf, but that rang up another bill of $163.77.

Beth centered on the bath at Bed, Bath and Beyond. They bought enough to redecorate a bathroom, but Mark would be in the outhouse with this bill. That's where Beth said the shopping clerk scanned the card and even watched her sign her name on Mark's card, but did nothing. She racked up another $193.22.

One would think expensive electronic items bought at H.H. Gregg might sound some electronic alarm if bought fraudulently. Beth bought a TomTom GPS system and a Bluetooth headset. The final bill was $291.56.

Beth's two hours worth of shopping with no questions asked netted a not-so-grand total of $781.79. No one during the whole expedition even batted an eye as she used Mark's credit card repeatedly.

When WAFF 48 News contacted the corporate offices of all four of the stores visited, there was no response from Wal-Mart or H.H. Gregg. A spokeswoman with Target said they don't have a policy for clerks to check ID with credit card purchases, but she said the store has other preventive measures in place. A spokesperson with Bed, Bath and Beyond said their cashiers are trained to make sure the name on the card matches the signature on the receipt.

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