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Avoid merchant's illegal searches

When you walk into Best Buy they have basically two rights concerning you. 1. They have the right to refuse you service, not let you enter, not sell you anything, etc. 2. They have the right to place you under citizens arrest for shoplifting.

Once you have paid for your items, they not longer have any right to them, and unless you have shoplifted, have no right to interact with you any further. I find being asked for my receipt simply an annoyance, but as it turns out it is actually an illegal search which is protected under the 4th amendment.

You are fully allowed to leave stores like Best Buy and Costco without showing your receipt. If they detain you, it is a citizen's arrest, and you better have stolen something. There can be major legal repercussions to the store should you choose to pursue them.

The best thing to do to avoid an illegal search is to say "no, thank you" when they ask to see your receipt. If they detain you further, ask "am I being detained for shoplifting?" Some guards can get pretty pushy, verbalize that you do not agree to going with them, but cooperate. [...]

Once they have found you did not shoplift anything, they will suddenly become very nice and apologetic. It doesn't change the fact that they just falsely arrested you. Know your rights.

More information here.

It is also against a store's credit card agreement (Visa, Mastercard, and AmEx) to require an ID when taking a credit card. This does not apply to Discover. You can say "No, thanks" and if they refuse to take your credit card then you can report them to the credit card company. They will be fined by the credit card company or lose their ability to take credit card altogether. If you choose to show ID, they are strictly prohibited from writing anything down from it. More info here.

You also have the right to

You also have the right to pay higher prices to compensate for shoplifted goods, and the right to have your credit card maxed out if it's ever stolen because the merchant didn't check IDs.

[note: I went to the link on credit cards and saw that they mentioned "personal information" like your address or phone number, but said nothing about IDs. Could you provide the link where it shows that a store can't ask for your ID when making a credit card transaction. Also, if you could, provide the link to the information on Visa's or Mastercard's website to solidify your argument.]

4th Amendment & Inventory

Most places have an inventory loss control system run off of passive RFID tags imbedded in their products. If you trigger it, they have every right to search you (and such loss control tools can often be triggered by garage door openers, company ID cards, etc.). If the RFID device is not triggered, though, they have no legal basis for reasonable suspicion (unless they caught you on camera, or something similar) and thus no legal reason to detain you and examine your receipt.

RFID tags

You're right, there are no laws specifically regarding RFID tags. However, triggering an RFID loss control device can be construed as reasonable suspicion of shoplifting, and would most likely be held up in court were you to be detained and sue for false arrest.

As far as your rights go, they CAN detain you, but you can request that a certified law enforcement officer search you.


Thanks for the links, sam-i-am. I'm not too concerned for guards asking me for my receipt (I don't care too much about making a point out of my rights unless it is necessary), but rather the second issue: taking personal info. I don't like it when people get my private info since that can certainly be misused.

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Hamlet, Shakespeare

I hate it when they stop me...

What i hate the most is the fact that 98% of the time when i do get stopped so they can check my reciept, they aren't even checking for anything. They are simply going through the motions because thats what they have been insturcted to do.

I really don't see it as an effective crime deterrent

thats made up. There is no

thats made up. There is no law specifically regarding RFID tags and shoplifting that I've ever heard of. They have no right to detain you no matter what their method of inventory control UNLESS you have shoplifted. If they detain you, then it is a citizen's arrest, and they better be correct.

Should you choose to pursue legal action against them, it's very easy. They can't prove they had reasonable evidence against you, because you never shoplifted, so reasonable evidence doesn't exist.

To answer your question,

To answer your question, while you might have a run up tab because of a stolen credit card number, the consumer (you) are 100% protected and will get your money back as soon as you report it. While the merchant does not have a right to require ID, they should still be matching the signature on the slip to the signature on your card.

But let's be honest, how often does the kid behind the register look closely enough at your ID and credit card, and then your face to protect against theft? Probably so little of the time that the point is moot.

Credit card laws are designed to 1. Protect The consumer and 2. To protect the credit card company, and 3. To protect the merchant - in that order. You don't have much to worry about with theft.

For your other question, perhaps you missed the part from the director of Visa Public affairs (posted below). Think about it - you're not even required to HAVE identification unless you're driving - and unless you're in a drive-thru, you're not driving when you buy something.

You can find more here:

They can also not ask for information, require minimum charges, add a fee for using a credit card (Like McDonald's did for a while), or charge a card to cover a bounced check.

Director of Public Affairs and

Visa USA Inc.
P.O. Box 8999
San Francisco, CA 94128-8999

MasterCard International
888 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10106

Merchants are not allowed to refuse a sale made by Visa or MasterCard solely because the customer refuses to provide additional personal information. According to Bankcard Holders of America, the same is true when you use your American Express card, but not when you use Discover.

If merchants have "sufficient" reason to suspect you are not the authorized card holder, they may ask for further ID. This exception rarely comes up in real life, and even if it does they must not write the information on the Amex, Visa, or MC charge slip.

Remember that if their

Remember that if their flawed sytem of inventory control singles you out falsely, it's still THEIR fault, not YOURS.

I have never stopped when the system beeps at me (I never steal). If anyone looks at me I wave and keep walking.

The main reason I don't

The main reason I don't usually stop is because I don't want to wait in line, which can get especially long at costco.

Also, I don't mind defending my rights, even small ones. If you defend the small ones, they never get far enough to take away the big ones.