Published: Tuesday, May 28 2013 2:45 p.m. MDT
A few years ago, our credit card was compromised by the very waiter who served
us when we were on vacation. We had some small talk with him about our travels,
and when we gave him our card to pay the bill from our table, he took it to a
local drug store to buy a $100 gift card, then slipped back into the restaurant.
When we saw the charge the next day, we learned from the police that this is a
common risk for diners, especially if they're from out of town and they let
their waiters know. Now, I always go to the cashier to pay my bills if I'm
in an unfamiliar restaurant. Amazingly, the security cameras at the drug store
caught our waiter using our card!
I have had similar experiences as "Baron Scarpia". In N.CA, a group of
waiters were caught running the credit cards thru the Kitchen and down back
alleys to other restaurants and businesses where new charges would be posted a
few days later. Well, I was in that town, but would never eat at a place where
I'm allergic to some of their ingredients.New and sophisticated
frauds and scams show up every day. Major chains have found clerks to be
stealing credit card information with impunity.I personally limit my
exposure to fraud by maintaining one separate account at a Bank where I
personally know the Staff. I use this account for on-line purchases, even
PayPal, and everyday debits. Replenish balance monthly, by mailed checks.
Had this happen to me in California just a few weeks ago. My card company
thought something was wrong and called me. There were just two extra charges
totaling under $200 but it was upsetting. Are check cards also vulnerable?
Due to limited loss liability, a credit card is still a safer way to pay for
most transactions. Do you really want to take the chance of carrying a large
amount of cash around? You loss liability with a credit card is limited to $50,
and the card company typically will waive even that amount in the case of
I keep a separate credit card with a very low credit limit for restaurants and
gas stations. When I add the tip to the restaurant check, I make sure the total
ends with a 7 (e.g., $23.07). When I buy gas, I always stop the pump at a
dollar amount that ends in seven cents (e.g., $41.57). When I get my credit
card bill each month, I scan all the charges and if anything doesn't end in
a 7 then I know something is wrong. Of course, you can use any digit.
It's hardly a foolproof system, but it's another layer of scrutiny
that makes it easier to catch fraudulent charges.
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