Protecting yourself from dishonest waiters

The Washington Post yesterday carried the story of customer’s credit cards getting “skimmed” at The Cheesecake Factory on Wisconsin Ave.

Unfortunately, credit card skimming is fairly prevalent. For those who are not sure how “skimming” works, a dishonest waiter/waitress makes a copy of the credit card as they take it from your table to where the card is charged.

They use a small hand-held device to make the copy. The real card is slid through and the information is captured and able to be downloaded after the shift end. Sometime they even use wirelesss devices that can be transmitted to an accomplice at a nearby table and the information immediately leaves the establishment.

The danger can occur when the credit card leaves your sight and unfortunately, nearly every transaction involves the card leaving the table to be charged. What then can you do?

The easiest solution is to simply pay by cash. Another option is to accompany the waiter to the point of charge. If they try to talk you out of it – speak to a manager. I would imagine that no manager at the Cheesecake Factory would object, with all of the negative press they are receiving. Until restuarants adopt a system whereby they can charge at your table – don’t let the card out of your sight.

It is a good idea to always check your monthly statements carefully. The Cheesecake Factory criminals ran up more than $117,000 in charges from the credit cards they stole from the restaurant’s customers.

Remember, dishonest people are everywhere to be found. Other area restaurants have had dishonest employees involved in this illegal activity in the past. Be vigilant with your identity and charge cards.

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