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Hotel Stays and Credit Card Fraud

by Francine Huff

Hackers went after hotel records more than those of financial institutions last year, mostly to steal credit card information, according to a study by Trustwave's SpiderLabs. The study looked at 218 data breach investigations in 24 countries.

Selling Stolen Credit Cards

In 98% of the cases, hackers went after credit card information, according to an article at DarkReading.com. Credit card information is heavily in demand because it is easy for hackers to turn into cash. Of the data breaches, 38% took place in the hospitality industry, 19% at financial services firms, 14.2% at retail establishments, and 13% in the food and beverage industry.

Guard Against Credit Card Fraud

Stealing credit card numbers from computer systems and through other means seems to be more common these days, whether it's at a hotel or some other type of business. For instance, credit card receipts from 17,000 guests who stayed in hotels in San Antonio were stolen and used to make fraudulent purchases, according to the Houston Chronicle.

But hackers aren't the only ones stealing credit cards. Consider the following tips to cut your risk of being a victim of credit card fraud:

  • Do not let your credit card out of your sight. Pay for restaurant meals with cash rather than have a waiter walk away with your credit card.
  • Shred blank credit card applications before throwing them out. Dumpster divers specialize in combing through trash to find credit card applications, bank statements, and other sensitive information to commit fraud.
  • Read through statements from credit card companies carefully, especially after traveling. Make sure all charges are legit, and immediate notify credit card companies if you detect fraudulent activity.
  • When traveling, try to limit purchases to only one credit card to avoid the possibility of fraud on more than one card.
  • Let credit card companies know if you move so they always have your correct address.
  • Pull a copy of your credit report to look for signs of fraud.
  • Consider closing accounts after paying off credit card debt rather than leaving unused credit lines vulnerable to fraud.
  • Shield your credit card from strangers standing next to you or behind you in line. A thief could quickly memorize or write down your credit card number without you realizing it.

Always report suspected credit card fraud as soon as possible to minimize the amount of damage that identity thieves can do.

Published 03/17/10 (Modified 12/20/13)

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