An Orlando-area homeless man is accused of using stolen credit card information to stay at a number of hotels, including Disney World resorts, reports FOX 35 Orlando. Investigators say Jeffrey Hawkins, 52, is skilled at memorizing credit card numbers and recalls that information to book his stays. He was charged for similar schemes in 2010 and 2012.
The situations in which Hawkins allegedly had the opportunity to memorize people’s credit card information remains unclear, but regardless of how he accessed the numbers, memorizing them takes quite a bit of skill. Credit card transactions often require the card expiration date and security code, in addition to the card number, and the security code is often on the back of the card.
Then again, it may not have been terribly difficult: Plenty of people carelessly read their credit card information out loud to make purchases over the phone, and anyone within earshot could use that data to commit fraud. Take note: This guy’s alleged crimes are exactly why you shouldn’t spout out your financial information in public.
Hawkins’ last stop on his alleged hotel spree is the Orange County jail, where he is being held on $6,000 bond and is charged with defrauding an innkeeper, third-degree grand theft, scheming to defraud and identity theft.
Most consumers are likely to become victims of credit- or debit-card fraud at some point, if not multiple times. Generally, consumers aren’t held liable for much or any of the fraudulent charges. It depends if the stolen card was credit or debit, because they have different consumer protections (credit cards have stronger fraud liability protections). But no matter what kind of card you carry, the sooner you report fraud, the better off you are. Not only might you have to pay for some of the fraudulent purchases, such spending could deplete your checking account, making you late in making other payments. As such, fraud has the potential to damage your credit, and it may be time consuming and expensive to get that corrected.
Make it a habit to monitor your financial account activity on a daily basis, and consider setting up fraud alerts or spending limits for your cards. You can also use your credit score as a fraud detector, looking for sudden changes in your scores unrelated to anything you’ve done recently. You can see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com, and they’re updated every 14 days so you can monitor for changes.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?