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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

Don’t Let an Identity Thief Get Lucky with Your Credit Card on St. Patrick’s Day

Hosting a St. Patrick's Day party is a risky undertaking — after all, you don't want to be responsible for cleaning up the mess made by rowdy revelers. This is one of the many reasons why individuals instead choose to celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick at a local bar. Aside from the convenience of allowing someone else to pick up the trash after the holiday, there's nothing more festive than spending it in an authentic Irish pub — even if you aren't Irish!

There's a lot you need to watch out for whenever you go out to a restaurant or bar to make sure your identity isn't compromised. However, the risk for identity theft is amplified when these establishments get crowded during holidays such as St. Patrick's Day. You are more likely to lose track of your belongings when you are distracted by Irish drinking songs and people performing jigs, and someone in the crowd or even a member of the restaurant staff could try and take advantage of your high spirits to steal your credit information.

Restaurants and bars are a hot bed for theft
In the vast majority of cases, your bartender or server isn't trying to steal your credit or debit card when you go out for drinks or a bite to eat. However, a report conducted by credit provider Visa and published in Consumerist Magazine in 2007 found that credit card theft took place in restaurants more than any other location.

Servers may find creative ways to steal your identity
There are numerous ways that restaurant workers are able to steal your credit information. WBKO, a New York City radio station and news source, reported on a recent identity theft ring at a Manhattan restaurant where workers scanned information from their patron's credit cards using an electronic device. Other victims have had servers or bartenders actually switch their credit cards with similar looking expired ones during the transaction, only to see their credit report riddled with fraudulent activity by the time they realized they were duped.

Refrain from handing over your card during the holiday
So when you go out on St. Patrick's Day, avoid handing your credit card over to a bartender to start a tab. Even if you regularly frequent the bar you're visiting on the holiday, the most experienced bartenders can still make mistakes and might give your card to the wrong customer by accident. Pay for each drink with cash if you can to make sure you aren't inadvertently covering another customer's tab.