I am traveling to Italy and France this summer. Many of the places recommended in the Rick Steve’s books ask for CC info via email. Is that typical? How can I be sure my info isn’t being stolen?
You can't be certain, but what I do is enable a VPN before sending mu CC via email. It is some protection in addition to the firewall of my internet at home. OR you can ask if you can call them with the number. Many people recommend sending two emails, each with half of the CC number.
Also check a website like booking.com to see if the hotel is listed there and book it that way.
A lot of small mom pop hotels list there hotels on sites like booking.com to reach more customers.
We inquire directly with the hotel about availability and then telephone directly with cc info. Never had any place not want to do it that way. Just our experience.
I have had to send my credit card number via email to a hotel in Paris, but:
1. I had stayed there a few times previously,
2. the email from them I was replying to was theirs, and
3. I split the number into 3 emails (as Laurel above mentioned some do) after informing them and they agreed.
No issues arose. Unfortunately, the tech world we live in always progresses for both the honest and dishonest.
There really is no advantage to splitting the number via email or even calling. Sending via email is perfectly safe. The probability of the email being intercepted is close to zero. If the number is compromised it will be at the end when the hotel writes it down or enters it into their computer, etc, or leaves it laying around on a scrape of paper. The human element. Over the years we have transmitted our CC numbers via email dozen of times with no problems. The locals are just as concerned about security as you are. It is just as likely that your cc information is stolen in the US as anywhere in Europe.
Yes it is typical. You can never be sure that your information is not stolen, it can happen when you pay at a restaurant and they take the card, swipe and bring it back. It can happen at the ATM, gas station and the ever popular Data Breach.
I have chosen to reduce risk by using just one credit card that is dedicated to JUST my travel arraignments that has a low credit limit ($1K) so I can spot unusual activity on it right away and they cant get too much if stolen. I have no problem sending my cc number and expiration date (at home on my Wifi only) since I initiated the e-mail. Of all my travel reservations I have only had to do this one or twice and everything has worked out fine.
We have had no problem sending the cc info via email. If it makes you uneasy you can call the hotel and provide your information. Just watch your charges as they are posted online. If there is an issue, you should be able to notice right away.
Agree that there's much more of a risk of your credit card being used by corrupt hotel staff (very rare, but it happens) than of your email getting intercepted by some complete stranger. (Note, though, that it's not a good idea to use your credit card number, either in a web payment form or in an email, while using public wi-fi, which has a higher risk of eavesdropping.)
I’ve gone ‘round and ‘round on this myself. For years I only did phone or fax. Then it was the multiple emails with fragments of the number. Each of these was not without it’s complications, often proportional to the language barrier. Finally, I caved and just send the cc info by email. My cards have been hacked but not as part of booking a hotel in Europe. Last time we were Xmas shopping in SF. Used my Chase United card in a single store, and two days later someone used it to book airline tickets to the tune of $600. I didn’t pick up on it until I got the statement. I called, canceled the card, cc company ate the charge. I don’t stress about this anymore. If you use credit cards a lot, eventually yours will be compromised.
....and two days later someone used it to book...... Probably just a coincidence. In all likely hood the card could have been compromise a couple of months earlier. Very little if any single card stealing is occurring these days. A lot of effort for small reward with some risk. Now huge batches of numbers are available on the dark web - remember all those data breaches. My guess is nearly all of our cards have been taken and are sitting in batch waiting to be purchased on the dark web. A couple of years ago my wife used her card at a Whole Food and within an hour someone tried to purchase a Starbucks in New Orleans (we live in Denver). Of course fraud detection immediately kicked in and we received a phone call. I doubt if the number was stolen at W Food - that would be too obvious.
This is the risk you assuming when using credit cards anywhere. But it a small risk to you personally other than the pain in the butt to deal with when traveling. We carry three credit cards so if something happens to one we can shut it down and deal with it when we return. Of all the things we worry about when traveling -- credit card fraud is nearly last on the list.
PS Alan and others: You can set certain limit for notifications on all cards these days. For example - I am notified by text of any charge on my card over $500 and more importantly notified of any charge over $100 is made without the card being present. I am amazed at how quickly that works. I have often made a charge over $500 and it is within seconds that my phone is beeping with a text message about the charge. There are a many security provisions with c card that should be used.
I agree with Frank. My card info was stolen without my even using it. I have a card that has high fees in Europe, so it's for back up only, but I had notified them I'd be in the Netherlands. Well, during that time, someone "used" it in Virginia - so the fraud alert kicked in. I never used it while in the Netherlands, so it wasn't stolen there.
A friend of mine had his driver's license info stolen; with the "cloned" license, someone used it as ID to get store credit cards at Target and PC Richard (an electronics store), which they in turn used to buy gift cards! Now, he hadn't shown his driver's license to anybody in years; it sits in his wallet. Proving the point that most information isn't stolen "live" these days, but from online hacks and data breaches.