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3 Ways Waiters Can Steal Your Credit Card Information

This article was written by in Credit. 6 comments.


The Real Hustle is a BBC show that describes how criminals, scammers, hustlers, and average tricksters manage to fool everyday people in typical situations.

The three Hustlers — confidence trickster Alexis Conran, scam artist Paul Wilson and ‘sexy swindler’ Jessica Clement — carry out notorious scams on unsuspecting members of the public to reveal how damaging such fraud can be to both businesses and individuals alike.

In one of the show’s segments, the Hustlers show three different methods a waiter or waitress can steal customers’ credit card information, including PIN, right in front of their faces.

The Real Hustle

In this video, the waitress attaches a small card skimming device to the bottom of her leg, on her waist, and even her apron, and each time she is able to skim the card without the customers realizing what she is doing.

The skimmer records the data encoded on the credit card strip as a waveform, which is later decoded with a computer program.

Updated August 9, 2011 and originally published March 26, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar donna jean

Are we supposed to be surprised that this can happen? There is a certain level of trust extended every time I had my card to anyone, especially a server that runs off with it to process. Of course, that trust is followed up with consistent reviews of credit and bank statements.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,435 (Platinum)

I don’t think there’s a need for surprise, perhaps just aware of these three specific methods that can be used.

Do you really trust every waiter or waitress you hand your card to? Honestly, I don’t think about it that much.

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avatar Toby

Just 3 of about a million reasons *not* to use a debit card to pay for things.

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avatar heyy

I always feel iffy about giving them my card and having them disappear for a few minutes with it…I know if I were them, I would be very tempted to write down expiration date, card number, security code…whatever’s on there. Do they reallly need one of those fancy machines??? Or am I just misunderstanding this..?…

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avatar Lee

I recently had my credit card number stolen by a restaurant server. They started trying to make online purchases and in under an hour American Express flagged the suspicious activity, notified me, and cancelled the card. I was never that paranoid about using my card, but I think this will make me start using cash more often.

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avatar Berry

My husband and I went to an Appleby’s restaurant and used a gift card my friend had purchased at JC Penney during Christmas. I gave her the card and she came back to the table and said there was no money on the card, we thought they must have made a mistake at JC Penney where it was purchased, so we paid for our meal with our debit card. I told my friend what took place at Applebys so she went to JCPenney and told them what happened. She did this about 3 weeks after the incident. JC Penney looked up the card on their computer and it showed it was used at Applebys. Then we knew what happened to the money on the card. It had been too long since it had happened, it was 2 years before we went back there.

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