Thursday, July 03, 2008

Credit Card Fraud

A couple of weeks ago I saw that someone had used my debit card to make a $25 purchase in a Rite Aid drugstore in Upstate New York. I thought it was odd, but called the bank and it was removed. I then find out that the person making the purchase had the actual card. I also found that odd, seeing as I had the card myself. Then I find out that the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo has issued this warning:

There has been a recent rash of thefts of credit and debit card numbers from members of the U.S. Embassy and expatriate community in the Dominican Republic. Based on an initial assessment of the information provided, NO singular location of card usage has been identified. This investigation has been turned over to the U.S. Secret Service (USSS). The Embassy will continue to support the USSS with this investigation and will provide additional information as soon as it is available.

American citizens in the Dominican Republic may wish to refrain from using credit and debit cards to make purchases or to withdraw cash from ATMs here until more information regarding the source of the problem is known. Americans who use a credit card or debit card in the Dominican Republic may prefer to use one with a low maximum credit line. It is advisable to monitor your accounts for fraudulent charges at least every other day.

If you have used a credit or debit card to make a purchase or have withdrawn cash from an ATM in the Dominican Republic within the last two months, the Embassy suggests that you monitor your accounts closely for fraud. Report unauthorized charges to your credit card company or bank immediately and DO NOT file complaints with vendors.

According to the Dominican newspapers, several people have been arrested at the local credit card processor here. It looks like it might be an inside job. Also, many people have been talking about being the victim of credit card fraud on DR1. I don't like to toot my own horn (okay, yes I do!), but I have consistently said not to use credit cards in this country unless you have to.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

On my return flight from SDQ last week, my flight was delayed while sitting at the gate ready to go. Finally police removed a passenger and the explanation was that his ticket had been purchsed with a stolen credit card.

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, after returning from the DR, I saw two airline tickets purchased in Spain on my credit card. (I have never been to Europe.) Now I'm wondering if my number wasn't stolen while in the DR. My cc company would't tell me what the flight itineraries were, but the Spanish connection is too cute!

Anonymous said...

Anthony is Correct about using credit cards. In February 2005, I was in Santo Domingo and had booked 3 days at a "new gay resort" in the northern part of the DR in El Limon. It was a disaster and the entrace to this resort was not paved and huge boulders sticking up from the dirt on the "carretera". We ended up blowing the airbags in the rental car and in the end even though we bought insurance were forced to pay $4878 USD for the damage to the rental car as it was determined that we are careless in even attempting to drive into this resort with the road in such horrible conditions. Getting back to credit card fraud, Someone at this resort, and my guess is it is someone that Anthony knows well named John, charged an extra $996 USD to my American Express Platinum Card. By the time I got my statement and saw this the resort had closed down. The owners of this resort were from Spain and it was being run by John Rodrigues until it closed. In the end, I got my money back and American Express went after the company in Spain that owned the resort to get reimbursed. Since then I have learned my lesson. USE AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL CHECKS whenever possible. They are free for members of American Express and can be replaced if lost or stolen. Just when you thought you could trust someone that you had met before, then you get these charges you never authorized. BEWARE! You cannot trust anyone.

Anonymous said...

One more piece of advice that I have learned about renting cars in the Dominican Republic from ANY major rental car service like Hertz, Avis, Dollar, etc... Never purchase the insurance which they were charging in 2005 $12.95 per day. Once you purchase the insurance, the insurance coverage that you can get for free from Visa, Mastercard or American Express is voided. You are not "doubly covered" by doing this. The major credit card companies will not pay the bill if something happens to the rental car because you purchased insurance. ALWAYS decline the rental car insurance and if anything does happen contact your credit card company and let them know. They will take care of it. Also, the Hertz, Avis, Dollar rental car agencies are just franchises and DO NOT HAVE TO ABIDE BY CORPORATE RULES. They just pay to use the name and they corporate headquarters for these companies will not assist you if you have a problem in the DR. You are at the mercy of the owners of these idependent franchises and none of the rules or regulations that apply in the USA are valid for these locations in the DR. Just thought I would pass this piece of advice on to the faithful Monaga readers since I have experienced this situation first hand. Jim, Boston, MA

Anonymous said...

I disagree with declining liability insurance in the DR. That's the only place I purchase the car rentals liability insurance. Here's why;

1. No matter what you think is being covered, read the fine print because while the car itself may be covered neither you nor passengers are. Many people believe there's this magic umbrella of coverage provided by CCs. That's false.

2. Your CC will most likely not cover property damage, nor personal damage/personal liability- like say, you hit someone. It's all on you.

3. Amex plat member here and they don't cover SUVs in DR. Nunca. Most CC companies have international exclusions of where and what they will cover if, they cover any damage at all.

4. Whether you have CC coverage or are covered under your auto insurance policy at home, here, they want that money before you even think of filing a claim. You pay and then file a claim back home. They want cash, unless you're covered by their policy. It's not as simple as saying here's my CC I'm covered and walking away. And again, most insurance companies have very limited, if any international coverage unless you purchased a separate insurance riderl

Renting a car in DR can be expensive and I totally get not wanting to add to the cost with their liability coverage. However It will be much more expensive if you have an accident and didn't read the fine print before driving off the rental lot. Just add it to the cost of having a fun time in DR!

Anonymous said...

Now most credit card companies charge a 3% foreign transaction fee. So if you charge $100 then you pay $103. If you use an ATM card, you pay the Dominican bank ATM fee, the U.S. bank fee for using an ATM not affiliated with that bank and the 3% foreign transaction fee. I do not use my credit cards there now. I usually take one or two for some dire emergency but I do not use them.

Anonymous said...

A few seasons back I was en route to the airport late, drunk, and trying desperately to miss my flight...i did'nt. I realized I was missing my cc, and at the moment it did'nt really matter. Actually I had forgotten all about It until the statement arrived. Well the SOB had the nerve (and I aint mad at him) to fill his car with GASOLINE! And I don't even drive so I was like WTF!? But the thing is I know who he is... a beloved taxi driver. Like I said I aint mad at him, I just no longer trust him.

Anonymous said...

To the person who says that they purchase the insurance in the Dominican Republic I say "Try to get them to pay if something happens to the vehicle". I bought the insurance (for total complete coverage at Hertz near Avenida Idependencia) and it was $12.95 a day. I was going to have the car for 5 days and I was told the car would be completely covered. Then when something happened to the car they said we were negligent and the insurance company that Hertz paid for my using the car refused to pay because the road in the North was unpaved and we should not have driven on this road. How the hell were we to know how bad it was until we got 1/2 mile down into this carretera never having been there before. There was no way to back up 1/2 mile on this rugged road. It is a scam with these insurance companies in the Dominican Republic. Either way they will find a way to NOT pay you. I fought this with Hertz Corp., American Express, Hertz in Santo Domingo and the insurance company that they supposedly paid with my money. The worst part was I was not even refunded the money I paid for the insurance even though the car was "completely" covered. They never gave me a copy of the insurance paperwork until I brought the other new car back (the first car was picked up and a new one brought to me) and on the back of this policy were dozens of "clauses" why they would not pay. One of them was for "road defects"...well if your in the Northern part of the DR then you may as well forget it because there are road defects everywhere. Bottom line... forget paying for insurance because if anything happens your going to pay the whole bill anyway and your money spent for the insurance was just a big waste of money. American Express Platinum told me that NO MATTER WHICH CAR I RENT I am covered 100% which is one of the benefits of being Platinum and paying $475 a year to be a platinum member. Also every first class airline ticket you buy you get a companion ticket free and the American Express Platinum card gets you free access to all the Airlines Presidents Clubs at all the airports if you have to wait for a connection. I actually have a letter saying this in writing about the coverage from American Express after my ordeal with Hertz in Santo Domingo. I will never buy insurance again.

CLOAKED said...

I always use my PayPal business card they have the best security! its real time monitoring at all times. Plus it cost 1.50 surcharge for ATM's.

Thanks Anthony for the heads up!

Anonymous said...

Read the fine print. You can *purchase* additional insurance (PCRP) through Amex. Basic coverage (CRDLI) which is the standard coverage offered on all their cards will leave you underinsured. Here is Amex's coverage options which explains the different policies and what they cover. As you see, the basic coverage will not cover an suv, property damage, personal injury or injury to others.

Like many things in DR, auto rental is a crap shoot. Personally, I feel it's worth the extra 12 dollars. While I love the benefits of the card it ain't the answer to everything.

Anonymous said...

I visited SD in May. I used my credit card (one-time only) at a restaurant across from H. Mercure. Well, they took my cc info and hooked someone up in Florida for gas. This happened 2 days after my return to NYC. They didn't realize that it was a new card and that was my 1 and only purchase on it - besides the fraud. I wished I had read Anthony's prior warnings about cc use b4 visiting. The bank didn't charge me any extra fees. I did use my debit cards (at the banks only). Hwr, I didn't have any unauthorized charges.

Anonymous said...

There's a restaurant across from the Mercure? I thought it was a tiny souvenir mall.

Anonymous said...

It is probably that wonderful Dominican restaurant across the street from the Mecure if you go out the side door not the door opening onto the Conde.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's the wonderful restaurant across the street - side door. I've never been disappointed with any of my meals or service there. Good food at very reasonable prices. Be safe - use cash.

Anonymous said...

CC issues have come back up again. I placed a note on the blog about a year ago. But as always Anthony did not post it. I am not sure why? I know it’s your blog and you pick what you want to add to the blog. But when it comes to traveling and it you have such a big audience that depends on your information and update of what’s going on in DR. If it’s a guy that has take or stole form a traveler. Or some one was assaulted this should be brought up. Upon my return to the US, tried to wd some money from my bank, come to fine out I was totally over drawn 2500.00 they start off w/ 25.00 then continue w/ a room for 5 days in romana, they ran up a tab damage the room. I did recover my money. After talking to the agency paradise resort in DR the owner of the resort was given a cc number and they ran it through. The person was in a hurry to book and it was all done through a phone call. Lesson learn do not let your cc out of your side make sure you follow them so they will not make a copy of the number of the cc. We as visitors to DR and run across fraud or some other assault or guy treating other gays bad, we should bring this to the attention to every one that reads your blog. You’re our inside to every thing that goes on in DR. and appreciate every thing you do for us. If we don’t report the bad and the good a lot of people that travel, could have prevent some of the bad things that happens to us. I know that we are grown adult and should know better. But we are human and it helps to take care of each other. We could and warned others we could have safe a lot of people some of the problems. We should point out a person if a guy has stolen or assaulted us. And it would be up to each one of us to choice what step we will take. Thank you

Monaga said...

From the top comment:

I placed a note on the blog about a year ago. But as always Anthony did not post it. I am not sure why?

Seeing as I don't know who you are. Or recall ALL the comments you post anonymously, I can't respond to the accusation.

I can say that I get tons of information from many sources and decide what I believe I should post.

Can't please everyone.

Anonymous said...

It's also very possible the comment didn't get through to Anthony, so didn't post. I found out the hard way that if you don't check for confirmation that your comment has been posted for the moderator's review, it may not post at all. Those squiggly letters you have to type for confirmation have defeated me more than once.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:09, Anthony always prints my comments unless once in a while I get crazy!! Anthony does a great job of alerting us to bad situations even when it lands him in court. Which reminds me, a certain individual that Anthony has warned us about repeatedly was not in any of the bars on my June visit. He was lurking about in the streets around the bars but I think the bars have the message. His new scam is to send a young friend in who offers to let you grope him and then the two of them make an accusation that you owe 1000 pesos for the groping. Avoid the young cohort also.
Having said that, we are educated adults and have to assume some responsibility for taking reasonable precautions and not try to impress the young boys with how much money we have, how much gold we can wear and how expensive our watch is. Here plain and less showy is a safety measure. Also when we have a "visitor" in our room, we have the responsiblity for making sure that our valuables are locked and secure.

Anonymous said...

True. Considering tourists and other travelers are just seen as money bags in nikes (no matter how attractive you think you are in that tank top), leave the bling stateside.

Groping scam? LOL. Gotta give the boy credit.

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