Credit Card Prank, Parts I and II

Zug's Credit Card Prank was widely linked to a few years ago. This is the prank as he describes it: Every time you make a credit card purchase, they're supposed to match your signature against the one on the back of your card. Nobody seems to check anymore, so I tried to see how far I could push it with wacky signatures like "Mariah Carey" and "Zeus". Now Zug has posted a sequel to the Credit Card Prank in which he makes his signatures even wackier and tries to discover what he can get away with. He draws pictures of Shamu, diagrams of the large intestines, and musical notes. They're all happily accepted.

Zug's prank is amusing, but I think the reality is that signing the card and receipt only secondarily serve the purpose of verifying your identity. The primary purpose of the signatures is to demonstrate that you've agreed to the terms of the contract with the credit card company. As long as you sign something (doesn't really matter what it is), the credit card company can say that you've acknowledged and agreed to the terms of the contract, and therefore you have to pay them back. I found this out a couple of years ago when I got into an argument with a post-office employee who refused to take my credit card that had 'See ID' written on the back of it. Turned out that the post-office employee was in the right. If you haven't signed the back of the card, then technically you haven't finalized your contract with the credit card company, and the card shouldn't be accepted.

Business/Finance Pranks

Posted on Tue Mar 29, 2005


When the family was visiting friends in Winnipeg several years ago, the father of the family we were visiting went across the street to rent a movie.

When he came back, he showed us the reciept.

It was signed Banana. He did this every time he rented a movie, and there was not a single time he was called on it.

All it took for him to own a movie, if he wanted, was to tell them that someone had stolen his movie card and to check the signature. But he wasn't that type of guy.

He was, however, the type of guy to crap in a box and mail it to someone (seriously), or pick his nose and wipe it on your arm (My dad was so pissed!).
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  11:29 AM

I believe you've opened up an entirely different can of worms there. Or should I say box of feces?
Posted by Chris Carlisle  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  01:11 PM
Hey, 'I' never opened the box. The guy he mailed it to did.

He was not impressed, and he never did find out where it came from. (Other than "some ass", i guess).

And I checked with Canada Post to see what it is actually legal to mail (when I was wondering about the kitty pillow thing). Turns out you can mail just about anything if it's in a "properly sealed" mailing container.

It's funny, you can mail a guy a dead cat, box of shit, or a human arm, but in Canada you cannot send alcohol.
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  01:28 PM
This credit card game is a sequel to one with personal checks from a few decades ago.
I read about this maybe 25 years ago or so.
A woman got mad when she had her check refused because it didn't have those magnetic bank numbers at the bottom of it, so she got a box of checks printed with her name and address and with the code numbers, and then signed any name she felt like. Apparently, neither the bank nor any of the payees ever looked at the names she signed. When I read about her, she was showing off checks with signatures like "Emily Dickinson," "Daniel Boone," "Queen Elizabeth I," "Katherine Hepburn," "Franklin Delano Roosevelt," and so on.
I've always meant to try this myself, but so far I haven't.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  01:36 PM
By the way, I'm pretty sure it's illegal in the U.S. to send human body parts through the mail.
However, the last time I mailed a package, the postal worker only asked if it contained any firearms, explosives, or flammable liquids-- I don't think she asked about dead bodies.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  01:39 PM
People mail funeral urns full of ashes, I imagine, but that doesn't constitute the same thing as mailing a dead body. In the act of mailing a piece of paper I can say that I mailed a tree (or at least a part of one).

I think the mailing dead bodies is a given no-no, I don't think they really need to ask if you are mailing a corpse!

(BTW, how big was the package you were mailing?)
Posted by Chris Carlisle  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  03:06 PM
Here's a guy who did a series of experiments seeing what the US postal service would actually deliver:

BTW, according to a postal worker after this guy tried to mail a tooth, human body parts are not allowed to be mailed (they made an exception for the tooth).
Posted by Rochelle  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  04:33 PM
"... In the act of mailing a piece of paper I can say that I mailed a tree (or at least a part of one).
Mailing trees is legal, subject to certain agricultural quarantine regulations and provided they meet size and weight limits. I've gotten both live plants and seeds in the mail. Also live insects, worms, baby chicks, and live fish (inside sealed containers of water, of course) are all things I've either received by mail or seen other people pick up at the Post Office.

"(BTW, how big was the package you were mailing?)"
Not big enough to contain a whole (adult) human body, but big enough for an arm, leg, or head.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  04:55 PM
Rochelle, I love those experiments.
My favorite is when they mailed a helium balloon with no postage affixed, and argued that the Postal Service should pay the mailer, since postal rates are based on weight, and the balloon, being lighter than air, had a negative weight.
Incidentally, it seems that in these experiments they dropped the items in letter boxes when possible, rather than taking them to the Post Office window. Therefore, these tests would be hard to repeat, because sometime after 9/11/2001 the Post Office declared that packages could no longer be mailed at outdoor collection boxes; only inside Post Offices.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Tue Mar 29, 2005  at  05:12 PM
Yeah, I've mentioned the 'you really should *sign* the back of these you know', to my customers at work..

The trick is, the credit card company really doesn't care *too* much if it's signed or not... Until the card is *stolen*. At which point, all those anti-theft protections are nicely null and void. Why? Because you didn't hold up your end and sign the damn thing.
Posted by Bobcat  on  Wed Mar 30, 2005  at  12:13 AM
" 8.0 Infectious Substances (Hazard CLass 6, Division 6.2)

The materials covered under Division 6.2 include infectious substances (i.e., etiologic agents), biological products, cultures and stocks, diagnostic (clinical) specimens, regulated medical waste, sharps waste, toxins, and used health care products. Division 6.2 materials are not permitted in international mail or domestic mail, except when they are intended for medical or veterinary use, research, or laboratory certification related to the public health;"

So, I guess only if you're gonna dissect the an arm when you get it can someone mail it to you in the U.S.
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Wed Mar 30, 2005  at  12:59 AM
...So I don't really have to pay my credit card bill??
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Mar 30, 2005  at  05:03 AM
Actually, only the back of the card signifies that you agree to the terms. The signature on the receipt proves that you really are the person making the charge. If you call the credit card company and claim that you never purchased 5000 pink baloons, they begin a "chargeback" process, the first step of which is getting a copy of the signature from the pink baloon company.

That's why I, as a business owner, was always annoyed when people "protected" themselves by leaving the back of the card BLANK. So a thief picks it up, fills out the back, the clerk rightly verifies the signature to the (false) one on the back of the card. Who gets stuck with the bill in this case? The store, which did everything right!

Now I sign AND write "See ID" (and highlight it).
Posted by Karen  on  Wed Mar 30, 2005  at  12:39 PM
"...So I don't really have to pay my credit card bill??"
Because you didn't sign your card, you mean?
Of course you don't have to! Not signing the card has the same effect as crossing your fingers behind your back and muttering "not" under your breath as you make the purchase.
I absolutely wouldn't pay that bill if I were you. 😏
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Wed Mar 30, 2005  at  05:28 PM
Hmmm, April 1st and I've gotta sign a new credit card... 😊
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Thu Mar 31, 2005  at  07:24 PM
Actually, my brother works for UPS, and they have a biological testing facility that ships body parts (arms, hearts, etc) through the branch that he works at a few times a month, so it definitely IS legal to ship body parts. Just some random info for you.
Posted by ninjavanish  on  Fri Nov 14, 2008  at  02:22 PM
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