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Old 09-01-2012, 10:20 AM   #1
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Avoid fraud attempts against card while traveling?

I'm not certain if this is in the correct forum area, but I trust it will be moved if not, thank you.

My question is: How to best make reservations for camping ahead of time to guard against fraud attempts to cards?

When we went on vacation in May, we only stayed at "government" campgrounds -- (1) COE; (1) state; and (1) county, all reservations were made ahead of time, the COE and state over the internet, and the county over the telephone. COE and county were in northern North Carolina, and state was in South Carolina. We did not use our CC for anything else while on this trip, actually, we don't use it a great deal anytime. We pay cash for fuel, food, recreation, etc.

About two weeks or so after we returned, we were called and there had been two frauds committed against our card, one was in TN for dinner, and I think the other one was either close to it or in GA, two hits at a motel for, of all amounts $6.95ea! I believe the motel charges were either for two drinks, or perhaps a test to see if they would go through, I don't really know.

This was all taken care of, card stopped, etc. What I'm wondering is, is there a safer way to make reservations prior to going? Would a prepaid card work? Do campgrounds accept prepaid cards? Where do you go to get a prepaid card?

Thanks in advance.

Deb
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:29 AM   #2
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Credit cards are, on balance, a very safe way to make payments. At times a bad actor will obtain your credit card data one way or another and you have to tell your credit card bank that you did not make or authorize the charges and fraud has apparently occurred. Then you're done.

It's much better than the loss you'd suffer if you lose cash, and much easier to work through than the results of having money taken from your checking account by someone who's taken your checkbook or used your account number to print their own checks or has compromised your debit card.

Generally the worst-case loss for credit card fraud is $50, and generally most banks waive that as well. In 25 years I've experienced 4 cases of credit card fraud (one of those was not a mystery... a scumbag housemate stole a card I wasn't using and therefore didn't miss until the bill came... and it cost me nothing but the time to make the police report and fill out the credit card paperwork.) The other 3 cases were small amounts, the credit card banks alerted me to probable fraud quickly (within a day of the first fraudulent charge in each case) and none of them cost me a dime.
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:29 AM   #3
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Peripherally related but one of strategies to use -- use an actual credit card and not a debit card. The credit card company takes the risk and is required to take fraudulent charges off your bill. Money comes directly out of your account with a debit card and there is a broad mix of policies where you wouldn't necessarily be protected.

I'll use my debit card with trusted local retailers but always use a credit card at the gas pump or with online or deposits at a distance.
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:33 AM   #4
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Some credit cards (such as Discover, but I believe there are others) will issue single-use numbers to use if you're concerned about using your card with an iffy or unknown merchant. The charge goes to your real account and you pay one bill at the end of the month, but the merchant never has to see your "real" card number.
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:48 AM   #5
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It sounds like your card company did its job. And even if someone had managed to punch a big charge on, most credit cards have protection for you, that a pre-paid card would not.

In your case it seems it would be easy for you or the CC company to track down the source. If you only used it online with the gov websites then someone has a huge problem and should know about it.

If you also handed it to someone in the campground to swipe, they probably cloned it. In that case the campground should care to know.
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Old 09-01-2012, 11:07 AM   #6
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Thanks to all for your input.

We do not have a debit card, these were credit card frauds. I couldn't say for certain, of course, but I'm leaning towards this being tied into the county park where we stayed. All were paid ahead of travel, and I seem to recall being asked to see a card at this county park even though it was prepaid.

The staff at the COE campground in NC and the state campground in South Carolina were all very professional and we didn't have to show anything other than our printout of our confirmation, as far as I recall.

In comparison, the staff at the county park were youngsters and not professional.

I'm extremely let down by this happening. I realize things happen and there are some nasty individuals out there, but I was raised to do the "right" thing. I especially wouldn't have expected this to happen at a "government" campground, be it federal, state, or local.

Disappointed is what I am, but not enough to stop going! I am on a mission to "cross all my t's and dot all my i's", so to speak; do all I can to try to reduce the chance of this happening again.

We were fortunate that the frauds were caught immediately and we were called to make certain that they were not our charges.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Deb
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Old 09-01-2012, 11:12 AM   #7
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I have had 6 credit cards compromised in the past couple of years. Four of them because of large national businesses having their data bases hacked, one because of the bank clearing house and one due to a local business.

Seems to be a part of modern life.

Use credit cards and have a second one for backup if one gets hacked. Or be prepared to pay cash, though I have found this won't always work.

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Old 09-01-2012, 11:25 AM   #8
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Most banks let you open several accounts at no extra charge. You can get individual cards for each account. You can manage and use each account as needed. Most banks allow you to transfer between account rather conveniently using a PC or a phone and even automatically scheduled transfers. So set it up or manually transfer money just before a payment is due that you may use the card for. Set aside a card for online purchases and move just the needed money to the account as needed. If that card gets compromised, then you can easily close the account and not have if impact other cards and accounts. You can do this for several uses. An example is auto debits for bills. You can schedule recurring transfers from you main account to the bill paying account just prior to the bill being auto debited. You can do this for each bill as it comes do. Banks give you so much flexibility to manage you accounts and move money. Do not use your main account card but have regular transfers to you "pocket" card. If that gets compromised, again, little hassle vs great hassle.
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Old 09-01-2012, 11:34 AM   #9
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Basically this is part of a modern life. We do all our banking online. Nearly every cent we spend is either on line or with a credit card. About once a year or so one of our credit card numbers gets pilfered. Most major banks have very good security systems in place to detect possible fraudulent charges. We have all of our accounts possible set up to notify us immediately of any suspicious charge. I get a text message on my cell phone and an email. If it concerns them enough, they will freeze the card and call my home and cell phone. It has been at least a few years since the first I knew about a bogus charge was when it showed up on a statement. So it's best to regard it as a fact of life, just the same as you run the risk of being robbed if you carry cash. However with a credit card in most cases you will not pay a penny. Just make sure you have set all of your credit cards to the most secure settings with the bank.

Make sure if your credit card is lost or stolen the very first thing you do is call the bank.

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Old 09-01-2012, 11:40 AM   #10
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Howdy!

We use credit and debit cards for almost all purchases. They were both compromised last year on two ocassions and had to be replace. One thing I due now is never let my card leave my site when using it. I will accompany them to where ever they are setup to swipe the card. Even had to go into a restaurant kitchen once and they had no problem doing so.

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Old 09-01-2012, 11:46 AM   #11
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Deb,

Don't let these incidents sour you to people in general. Just not worth it nor warranted, IMO. Both transaction attempts may have been made by the same person, or it was just a fluke that you ran into two crooks in one trip.

In the future, being asked to show your card when you have already paid for a reservation will be your first clue that something is amiss. . One of those things one thinks about in retrospect.

We use our Visa for all fuel purchases, major purchases, plane tickets, etc., and the few make-ahead reservations we have. We've done this for probably 20 years, many thousands of transactions and have had only two fraud attempts, both in the last 10 years or so. We caught these quickly ourselves. We also use our debit card freely, mostly for campgrounds and groceries, all around the country, and have never had a problem. I review debit and credit card transactions on line frequently.

We have found that things go more smoothly for us if we use our cards regularly as we travel. Less likelihood for someone at the bank or credit card company to put a stop on our card because something looks unusual. If they can look at transactions and see a logical connection of transactions, seems to help.

Bummer this happened to you, sorry for that. Keep your chin up.


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Old 09-01-2012, 12:32 PM   #12
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We don't have any fears about using credit or debit cards on vacation.

All our cards are now chip cards which I believe is more secure. We also use the typical cautions about safeguarding your PIN when using the card.

In addition; on major trips we've made a habit of calling the credit card company before leaving home and advising them of our trip plans and the time periods we will be away from home.

It has also been a habit for a very long time now to do our banking on a daily basis - any charges not made by yourself are spotted very quickly (having said this - many campgrounds have poor - or no - internet access - meaning we do get a bit behind.

We've never had any issues - and have been pleasantly surprised twice now to get calls from the credit card company to just check when a purchase fell outside of our normal spending patterns.

The only incident we have ever had was when our sons card (an older magnetic strip type card) was stolen out of his wallet (the thief left the wallet) from a change room at a pool. In this case the card company caught the change in spending habit before he even knew the card was gone. Pretty impressive.


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Old 09-01-2012, 01:33 PM   #13
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I have never used a debit card, but have relied on the CC for all purchases and use cash for the coin laundry only.

However, in the past, and more so today in the USA, the fuel prices posted are for "CASH" and when I use the CC I have to pay more.

Some fuel/convenience stores will not even take a CC.

What is the answer for this?? I would say the USA should update their consumer laws to outlaw this. The price posted should be what you pay.

However, I have been reluctant to use a Debit Card or cash so my fuel costs are higher than they could be. Any solutions to this??

The other thing that has happened when using the CC was the problem with the $100 purchase at the pumps. If I am filling up the Clipper, sometimes I have to repeat the CC transaction 3 times at the same location. 2009 in Norwich, NY the CC company cut me off on the repeated transaction and that cost me $32 because I was dumb enough to phone them on my cell phone, rather than using a pay phone for the toll free number. (note: never use cell while roaming unless its a life or death situation.) The CC company, CanTire, was apologetic and covered half the cost of my cell phone call, as I had informed them before we departed on the trip of my planned route and schedule specifically to avoid this type of incident.

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In addition; on major trips we've made a habit of calling the credit card company before leaving home and advising them of our trip plans and the time periods we will be away from home.
We've never had any issues - and have been pleasantly surprised twice now to get calls from the credit card company to just check when a purchase fell outside of our normal spending patterns.
Jay
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Old 09-01-2012, 02:10 PM   #14
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i have a credit card with a very low limit that i use when i suspect a higher risk. monitor your credit limits, they often go much higher than you want/need and you can call and usually get them bumped up if you expect a large purchae or just send a large payment before the transaction.

vendors are getting hit with large fees for credit transactions and i understand them charging more for credit but i don't like it when they charge MORE than my rebate percentage from using it.
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