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BusyBea

Warning: Credit Card Fraud at Port of Cartagena

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We recently returned from a Panama Canal cruise to find that our credit card had been fraudulently charged $1675 by a hotel in Cartagena. The charge was made one minute prior to a valid transaction at a beverage kiosk at the port, Cafe Puerto Cartagena.  Normally I would have paid cash for our drinks, but my brain was on autopilot and I pulled out my card without thinking.  The clerk took my card and it was out of my sight for a minute or so. That is certainly where the fraudulent charge took place because my card wasn't out of my sight at any other time and we didn't leave the port area.  

 

I spent the last month+ convincing our credit card company that I was on a cruise and therefore didn't require a room in Cartagena. They kept denying our fraud claim because the chip was present even though I hadn't signed anything nor used a pin. Thank goodness for Google maps and date, time, and location stamps on our photos so we were able to prove we were at the port at the time the charge was made, not at the hotel four miles away.

 

I'm fairly well-traveled and am usually very cautious, but I was tired and let my guard down.  Valuable lesson learned and I hope this will help others keep their wits about them when they visit the Port of Cartagena.

  

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On 3/14/2019 at 7:39 PM, BusyBea said:

We recently returned from a Panama Canal cruise to find that our credit card had been fraudulently charged $1675 by a hotel in Cartagena. The charge was made one minute prior to a valid transaction at a beverage kiosk at the port, Cafe Puerto Cartagena.  Normally I would have paid cash for our drinks, but my brain was on autopilot and I pulled out my card without thinking.  The clerk took my card and it was out of my sight for a minute or so. That is certainly where the fraudulent charge took place because my card wasn't out of my sight at any other time and we didn't leave the port area.  

 

I spent the last month+ convincing our credit card company that I was on a cruise and therefore didn't require a room in Cartagena. They kept denying our fraud claim because the chip was present even though I hadn't signed anything nor used a pin. Thank goodness for Google maps and date, time, and location stamps on our photos so we were able to prove we were at the port at the time the charge was made, not at the hotel four miles away.

 

I'm fairly well-traveled and am usually very cautious, but I was tired and let my guard down.  Valuable lesson learned and I hope this will help others keep their wits about them when they visit the Port of Cartagena.

  

Thanks for the heads-up.  We will be there in November and will remember to leave our CC locked away in our safe.

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11 hours ago, lilly4350 said:

Thanks for the heads-up.  We will be there in November and will remember to leave our CC locked away in our safe.

Your safe sounds like the very best place for your CC while in Cartagena. Have a wonderful trip!

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Posted (edited)

Sorry that this happened to you, but the reality is that there's credit card fraud in every place in the world, including your own home town. The day you suffered a fraudulent charge at the port there were probably 500 people who bought things there without having an issue. I've purchased things at that port complex without issue.

 

People have had fraudulent charges placed on their card while checking in for cruises in major cities in the US.

 

I once had a fraudulent charge placed on one of my credit cards while paying for breakfast on a Sunday morning in the Binghamton, New York Holiday Inn.

 

Not that you shouldn't be careful about where and how you use your card, but the reality is it can and does happen everywhere.

Edited by njhorseman

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njhorseman, I have no doubt you are correct.  I wasn't implying that there is any greater risk of credit card fraud in Cartagena than anywhere else in the world.  I was simply trying to warn people of a specific business where I know fraud occurred and hope that, by exercising greater vigilance than I did, they will avoid a long battle with their credit card company.  

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I call my credit cards before traveling.  The last two cruises as I listed my ports they stopped me when I said Colombia.  Told me that credit card fraud is rampant there.  Not to let my card out of my sight.  Also said to have shop/restaurant call the 800 number on back of card vs letting them swipe the card if they claim the system is down etc.  Never had any problems, but found it interesting that they singled out Colombia.

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