Credit Card Fraud in Vegas


Sunday, 21 June 2009 at 2:59 pm Pacific USA Time.

Last time I was in Vegas, someone skimmed my card. Oh, I learned all about it… this is where someone swipes your card (with a device other than the device they needed to use for you to pay), and it records everything on your card. They can then use that (or sell that) and reprogram a credit card to be yours.

This a REALLY sneaky for two reasons.

  1. Your card wasn't stolen, so you don't know it's compromised.
  2. Since they reprogram a card with their name on it, anybody who asks them to produce ID will still pass the test… the name on the card matches the name on the license. But if the cashier looked closer, the 4 digits printed on the receipt wouldn't match the 4 digits on the face of the card.

Two days after I got back from Vegas, while I was buying lunch in
Tucson, AZ, my card was being used in a rural Pennsylvania WalMart to
buy $1200 of stuff. Somehow, my card issuer didn't think it was WEIRD
that one card was being used across the country at the same time, and
let the charge through. I spent the week fighting it.

So how do you protect against this?

I'm going to Vegas this week for the eBay Radio Party, so this is on my mind. I decided to go to Safeway and buy a Visa debit card. It was $5.95 for one with $100 loaded on it, and I can use it just about anywhere. I'll use it to eat in Vegas, and that way, when someone walks away with my card, they have NO reason to skim it. It can't have more than $100 on there.

I suggest the same. Get yourself a gift card, and use that. Sure, I spent $6 on it, but I would pay $6 to NOT go through what I went through last time… fighting the charge, canceling the card, waiting for a replacement, messing up some of my monthly charges that were being auto-billed to that card. It was a MESS.

I've heard other people talk about using something like this… where they have a bank account (with an ATM debit Visa or Mastercard), and they only put enough money in the account to cover what they think they'll purchase. They do nothing else with the card, and don't keep a lot of money in there. That way, if it's every compromised, they haven't lost much, and the hassle is much less.

Personally, I think that by it being a pre-paid gift card, it's probably completely not attractive. Why steal my card for what might have $50 on it?

Travelling, especially to a conference? Spend a few dollars and get yourself a Visa gift card. :)


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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

2 Responses to “Credit Card Fraud in Vegas”

  1. I do like those gift cards. You can even register them so more merchants, including online ones, will accept them.
    The gift cards are the only way I will use PayPal anymore. That’s because whenever a payment method doesn’t work correctly, PayPal will frantically flail about, hitting all your OTHER payment methods- including old ones, which by law they are not supposed to keep lists of.
    I actually have a Romanian crook who hits my credit card for $1 each month. After much reflection I decided to simply allow him to continue. Why? Because a guy who steals $1 is kind of cool. And in a twisted way, I support that. How often have we all dreamed of getting $1 from 1 million people, and then we would never bother anybody ever again? The guy is smart. He is showing restraint. If all crooks were content to take only $1 then this would be a much nicer world.
    That’s certainly a better behavior pattern than most CEO’s, businesses, and even utilities, come to think of it.
    The Romanian, after all, didn’t cause me a slew of NSF funds. PayPal did.
    What’s that saying, “Vote with your $$$…”

  2. ebuyerfb says:

    @ notme,theotherme
    Can I have $1 too?