Take a good look at your server the next time you’re dining out, because if someone you don’t recognize comes to take your credit card at the end of your meal, you may not want to hand it over.
A man who was eating at a restaurant in Santa Fe, N.M., said a woman he thought to be a waitress took his credit card and never came back with it, allegedly going to a nearby store and spending hundreds of dollars with the card.
According to a news story from KRQE in Albuquerque, video surveillance shows the suspect at a Target near the restaurant, where she reportedly spent $200 before driving elsewhere. The alleged victim canceled the card before any additional purchases could be made.
It’s not unheard of to have a restaurant worker other than your server collect the check, but it’s odd that a woman who didn’t work at this place was able to walk away with a patron’s credit card. Then again, legitimate restaurant employees all over the place have been known to commit fraud with a patron’s credit card, because it’s customary that servers will take your card out of sight, providing an opportunity to copy the information.
Because we don’t always pay close attention to who is serving us at restaurants or have the ability to oversee someone in possession of our credit cards, fraud like this is difficult to prevent. Still, there are plenty of ways to minimize the potential damage something like this could cause. (If the man had been using a debit card, for example, he would have been out $200 from his bank account, perhaps for a few days, until the fraud had been resolved.) One thing you can do is set up transaction monitoring and alerts for your accounts, so you receive notice of transactions over a certain dollar amount (or for all transactions), and you’ll immediately know whether it was you who made that purchase. Additionally, it’s a good idea to check your account activity daily, so any unauthorized transactions can be quickly identified and reversed.
Credit card fraud can hurt your credit score if it goes on undetected, because a thief could max out your credit card, or get close to doing so, which has a seriously negative impact on your credit standing. Even though the fraudulent data should be corrected, it could be a time-consuming fix, and that can cause problems for you, particularly if you’re planning to apply for new credit. You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com to see where you stand.
More on Credit Scores:
Image: Digital Vision