There are so many credit card scams out there right now, it feels hard to protect your plastic. Start with learning when it's a bad idea to share your credit card info over the phone.
We've gotten a bit used to data being stolen or ripped off from ATM skimmers; that's how my credit card numbers have always been stolen in the past, in fact. But there are still old-fashioned scammers who will call you up and do some classic thieving, as happened to a woman named Kim, who shared her story with The Points Guy.
Kim had ordered breakfast at her Marriott hotel. Soon after she received a phone call supposedly from the hotel staff saying they needed to run her card again because there was an issue with the order:
It seemed a little fishy, but the caller knew my name, room number, that I had ordered breakfast and the exact amount that was charged to the room. I didn't want to go downstairs to give them my card in person since I was working, so I gave the information over the phone.
Within minutes, Amex was calling and texting about a suspected fraudulent charge for $211 [$AUD293] to Hickory Farms.
Kim was lucky that her bank was on top of it, but she was haunted by the idea that other people had been scammed. After filing an incident report with the hotel, they said it was likely an employee moonlighting as a scammer on the side, as that's the only way to gain access to the internal phone system.
So, what can you do to avoid something this convincing?
Go Down to the Front Desk
In general, if it's possible to do something in person, do it. Hard to know what kind of an answer the scammer would have had if Kim had said she would do it at the front desk. They probably just would have thanked her and moved on to the next mark, and she'd have been safe. Even if it's annoying, make the extra effort and go downstairs, just in case.
Be Careful With Received Calls
In general, if someone is calling you and asking for credit card info, it's a red flag:
A good general rule is to never provide personal information to someone you don't know in a conversation you didn't initiate — that goes for email as well as phone calls.
Kim's scammer was successful because they had so much inside info. However, remembering to be wary about callers is always wise. You really don't know who that person on the other line is, even if they sound normal. If something seems even slightly off, trust your gut, and ask if you can hang up and call the customer service line to work the issue out.
If they object, that's really a sign that things are not as they should be.
I Gave a Scammer My Credit Card Number — Reader Mistake Story [The Points Guy]