Two topics I have frequently written about on Flying With Fish are traveler security and travel etiquette … and two days ago, at 8:30am CST these two topics came crashing together at the United Airlines Red Carpet Club at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Throughout the past few years I have detailed both how airport thieves prey on travelers, using many tactics to gather valuable information from passengers and I have also written extensively about passenger etiquette, especially when using mobile phones.
…so what did I encounter while in the lounge two days ago?
While sitting in a quiet lounge the other morning a businessman sitting two rows behind me was on the phone ordering an item with a voice volume similar to the voice one might use in a crowded stadium during a World Cup match. What is worse than this gentleman breaking the cardinal rule of mobile phone etiquette is that he exposed himself to becoming the victim of credit card theft … or worse, identity theft.
While on the phone, ordering an item, in a crowded and quiet lounge, this traveler began announcing his American Express credit card information at full volume. This information included his credit card number, expiration date, security code, name on card, billing address and contact phone number. To make matters worse, he repeated all the information a second time.
I know many travelers are lulled into a false sense of security in a lounge, and putting aside the significant mobile phone etiquette issues, keep this in mind … airport thieves are everywhere. Many who make a living stealing from passengers have lounge access … and if you make it very easy for someone to gather all your credit card information without any effort, you may find your credit card making purchases you’re not aware of.
Even without the aid of a passenger announcing their credit card information, experienced airport thieves gather credit card information on a daily basis in lounges. A common tactic is for thieves to watch for those with credit cards out, then walk near them feigning a phone call. The traveler with their credit card out assumes the person behind them is merely being rude, when in reality they are gathering the credit card information you have out. There are many tricks and ways thieves gather information then use it before the victim has any idea they’ve been a victim.
Remember this and you’ll be OK, first off, obey mobile phone etiquette in the airport, no one cares about your business but you … secondly, remember this…your lack of mobile phone etiquette can open you up to being the victim of an airport thief.