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May 04, 2007

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Actually, I think about this a lot, because I work so late everyday that I tend to my personal business on the train. But I've learned to save my banking and reservations for when I get home or very early the next morning because I'm simply not comfortable reading off all my credit card info in public like that, especially when people are so close by. No matter how quiet you are, you're much louder than you think!

Did you feel like Jason Bourne from the Bourne Identity? :)

I think you did fine. There are opportunists out there, but the odds that anyone would go to that much trouble of following you are slim to none.

I definitly wouldn't have recited my credit card # loudly, but I don't know anyone who can listen then remember 16 digits. Sorry ... I think you were probably a little paranoid.

There are many people who can remember 16 digits when they're being read off. Heck, I do it quite a bit with VINs. Or just ype them into your cell phone while he's talking, and whamo, you've got it.

If you are really that paranoid, why not have a low limit no-fee card for reservations/strange situations, and then a regular card for general use? That way if the guy next to you was writing your number down ho could only get access to a 1000 credit limit, or some other low number for your situation.

What about the brain scanners at the airport, if you weren't wearing your foil helmet they could have plucked the numbers from your head as you thought of them . . . then what would you do? When you go through the anti-brain scanner detectors your foil helmet will set off the anti-brain scanner tool alarms... you should always refuse to take it off, it's your right ;)

Can't wear a foil helmet -- I already wear a lead one to protect myself from alien abduction. ;-)

A little paranoid but just don't take it out on people. They could just be there; my example, I needed every available person to be running a register during a Saturday. I had also hoped on when this lady had to enter in her pin number. There was this pretty tall guy behind her when she turned around and told the guy that she needed her space. She also then made a big show of hiding the pin pad while she entered her pin. Me and the guy had a nice chuckle about it; I don't remember his name but he's a general contractor and buys a lot of material from us. He also has several accounts I setup. SO technically the lady should be more afraid of me since I can literally recall the order and get her card info and go on a shopping spree but then again and oddly enough I'm honest.

Probably unnecessary, but it certainly doesn't hurt. You got your room, chances are nobody stole your number, nothing to worry about.

In similar situations, I have covered my mouth and the edge of the phone with a hand to muffle my voice, which also allows me to lower the volume while still being audible to the person on the other end. Moving around and turning as you go was a good idea.

A cell phone is a RADIO. Anyone with the right equipment can eavesdrop. Land lines are more secure...

Probably overly paranoid, but I'm not so sure. Heres my deal.

Back during Thanksgiving, I was at PDX on my way to LAX. Naturally, my flight was delayed so my girlfriend and I went to the bar to have a drink. When it came time to pay the bill I pulled out my Discover card to give to the waitress. A minute or two later she returned with the card and my receipt.

Four days later I checked my account balance online and was surprised to see that I had no available credit. I decided to go out for breakfast before calling Discover. While eating my waffle, Discover called because some chucklehead had used my card to purchase four tickets to the Dominican Republic.

Best I can figure, either an employee there took the numbers, or the waitress got careless with the card and allowed someone sitting at the bar enough time to get my numbers. Either way it was a pain in the ass.

If I were you, I'd be more concerned about Ian, the hotel clerk, using your number for himself or writing it down and not shredding it after using it. I believe inside jobs are responsible for more id theft than the casual criminal. Three things usually contribute to any type of fraud: motive (pay the bills), lack of control (which most hotels do since they are not very regulated), and availability (like your boy Ian). And who has the best availability to our credit info...low-level employees, the one's with the most motive.

I think you had the right strategy. So many people are oblivious to the information they are letting complete strangers have access to. I have heard people spell out their full names, credit card numbers, and social security numbers loud enough in various "waiting room" situations. One time I was in a waiting room alone with a woman and she was on the phone with some business or bank. She spelled out her name and SSN. After she got off the phone, I mentioned to her that she should be more careful about letting other people hear her personal information in public. She said something like, "Oh, it's not like anyone could remember all that". I then repeated her full name and SSN number to her. She said "oh" and gave me a poisonous look. I was just sitting there reading a magazine!

Of course the other commenters are right -- individuals have more to fear from dedicated identity thieves and those who have great access to personal information.

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