Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On the Road: Credit Card Fraud at Restaurants

Vacationers spend a lot of money at restaurants when they travel. What always amazes me when I am dining is how many people hand over a credit card to a stranger who then walks out of the room with it. Diners never give it a second thought. They probably do not realize that a device called a credit card skimmer, which is available for sale on the internet, enables any person to swipe and read a credit card. I am not that trusting of a person to think that no one at a restaurant would ever use such a device on my credit card. When people are on vacation, they use their credit cards more often and the chance that the credit card could be stolen increases dramatically.

To avoid this situation I try to use prepaid or store-value cards for restaurants that can be purchased at grocery stores and at the restaurant itself, or I pay cash. That is my personal choice. Others maintain that if a credit card number is stolen, one is not responsible for the charges. These people feel if they carry cash or a prepaid card for this purpose and lose them, they are out of luck. That is also a valid point.

Speaking of credit cards,  I try to make sure I check my credit accounts when I arrive at my destination and I keep tabs on them regularly throughout my trip. Several years ago when my credit card number was stolen on the way to my destination, I notified the bank and had it send the replacement card to its branch at my destination. I showed my identification at the branch and picked up the card. This was not an easy process. The people at the branch were fine, but trying to get through to the corporate part that I was on vacation was more difficult. They kept sending forms to my home address. I would advise anyone who has a credit card dilemma while on the road to be very clear to the bank as to where you are located. Most credit card companies are fine, but some do lack simple common sense.

(I do have an explanation for the photo. I know there is no longer a Master Charge! I was taking photos of vintage items I want to sell to an antique dealer and thought I would put this photo to good use!)

(Photo taken in 2013)

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