Be careful where you use your credit card
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Nov 18, 2012 9:58 AM Last Post By: BCMum
Nov 16, 2012 9:03 PM
Be careful where you use your credit cardOur first day in Panama, we followed suggestions to purchase a cheap cell phone and load some minutes on it to make local calls to hotels, tour operators etc. We went to Albrook Mall, a huge US style mall and purchased a phone at one of the kiosks in the mall. We put the phone and minutes on our credit card and within an hour someone had used our credit card number to make $100 worth of purchases from I-Tunes. We ended up having to cancel the card (the only one we brought with us to Panama) and to go cash for the rest of trip, relying on the availability of ATM machines.
We later learned that cell phone cloning is becoming a problem in Panama and that some unscrupulous scammers pay sales people in the malls for credit car numbers. Some of the merchandise sold at these kiosks may also have been purchased using stolen credit card numbers so buyer beware. I would recommend using your credit card only at major hotels and large established businesses (such as rental car agencies) Even then, be careful.
Nov 16, 2012 9:55 PM
1Only time I've ever had a major fraudulent charge was at a car rental company....
Two points here: first, be careful and don't neglect to check your card balance, just as you did. Second, carry more than just one card. I bring three credit and three debit, so if one is lost, stops working, or gets compromised, I don't need to stress out over it.
Unless I'm pretty confident (or desperate), I keep the credit cards in reserve for emergency backup only. I'd have paid cash for the phone and minutes.
Nov 17, 2012 7:48 AM
Nov 17, 2012 12:32 PM
3Sorry to read that you were a victim of credit card fraud from a purchase at Albrook Mall. I have been using my cards less and less because of all the fees and also the difficulty reaching a live person who knows anything with some cards. So I decided to only have one credit card and one debit card. As well as a locked down credit report. The budget places I stay in don't always accept cards in Central America. And, to me, it is more easy just to pay a hotel bill in cash and be done with it instead of getting a bill. But certain things you need a card for, I know.
Albrook Mall is a fun shopping place. Hope this bad time won't sour you on it or Panama.
Nov 18, 2012 12:29 AM
4A major pita when this happens on a trip.
My husband's credit card was cloned in Vancouver, Canada as he was leaving for a trip to England, they had to cancel his card when I opened the bill here at home and saw the fraud, but luckily it was cancelled right after he had paid his last hotel bill over there as he had no back-up card.
Earlier this year I paid a deposit on a car rental at a major establishment in my home town, using a card I reserve for emergency use only, so it had not been used for 8 months previous to this. It was cancelled when someone tried to make fraudulent transfers the next day and the bank didn't even inform me. So, even reputable businesses can have not so reputable employees.
This type of thing happens everywhere and often. Best advice is to have more than one credit card if you are depending on it, as post number one also states.
Nov 18, 2012 4:27 AM
5If you do decide to have a "back up card" for emergencies, be sure to use it now and then or you might find the bank decides to mark it inactive and you can't use it when you need it. Or they cut the credit line way down without telling you because they see you never take it. I think this topic shows every way is a hassle of sorts: cards, more cards and not. It's like "pick your poison". Glad the OP alerted us to this scam.
Nov 18, 2012 9:58 AM
(4 star Hotel)
From US$264.28 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$155.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$189.18 per night