Posted by: Josey | March 6, 2009

Credit Card Safety: A Do and a Don’t

Coincidentally, Maggie and I had just been talking about a credit-card safety measure I should take in Brazil. She suggested that I never let someone walk away with my credit card—that I should always insist to have it swiped in my presence. I’m not convinced the strategy would make any difference, but it couldn’t hurt to take an extra recommended precaution.


Fast forward two hours: We were wrapping up our incredibly fun catch-up dinner at the newest NYC location of Bar Carrera tapas restaurant (with an early-evening special surprise guest appearance from Ann). I asked our waiter, who was chatting with some customers in the bar area, for the check, which he brought over relatively quickly. Maggie and I glanced at it, then put our credit cards on it and waited for him to come back to take them. It was late, and I was exhausted so eventually I gave up and walked them over to him in the bar area. I heard him run the credit card machine, but he never came back. Ten minutes later, I looked in his direction to investigate the hold-up and… our credit cards, along with statements with blank tip and total lines, were sitting on the bar among the customers.


Was that irresponsible and careless? Or am I overreacting? Would you have been angry, or would you not have cared? Talk back below.



  1. I came across your travel blog through the Smitten blog on Glamour. I also love to travel and love reading about other people’s trips to get ideas, tips, and inspirations for my upcoming travels.

    In response to your post, that does sound irresponsible. I probably would have said something to the waiter or the hostess on my way out, like “I didn’t feel very comfortable having my credit card and the blank receipts at the bar among all the customers that are coming in and out…that doesn’t seem to be a very safe practice!”

  2. Hi, Emily! I’m so happy you’re here–and I’m really glad you agree… I said something almost exactly like that.

  3. I agree it was irresponsible of the waiter to leave your card, etc in plain sight like that. I think I’d want to let the management know because it sounds like a training issue to me.

  4. Yeah, totally unacceptable. I also think cats on leashes is totally unacceptable.

  5. So I just did some research, and it turns out it’s called “credit card cloning” — basically, your server takes your card away and swipes it on a device (called a “skimmer”) that copies down all the information on your card’s magnetic strip (not just the number, but your PIN, hologram, etc). They can then copy that information onto a fake credit card and start using it anywhere. So that’s why you shouldn’t let your server swipe your card out of sight.

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