Friday 22 August 2008

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I was recently at a restaurant in Gaborone and when I paid using my debit card they asked me to give them my contact details in a form on the back of the bill. This asked for my telephone number, address and ID number. I was worried about giving away these personal details. Do you think I should have given them?

No, I don’t think you should ever give your personal data to anyone you don’t know.

Of course we all understand that stores and restaurants lose money because some customers are crooks. We were told recently by one major store in Gaborone that they lost over P250,000 last year just because of dishonoured cheques. That was before the money they lost to people who were using stolen debit and credit cards. You might think this has nothing to do with you and me, the honest customers, but remember that it is the honest customers who end up paying the price for the dishonest ones. The store will simply put up it’s prices to cover the losses they make from fraud and theft and who then pays those higher prices? You and me.

Stores are entitled to take certain measures to ensure you are who you say you are but I think that recording your ID number is going too far. I think it’s reasonable for you to show them your ID or your driving licence, in fact anything with your picture and name so they can be certain you are genuine but allowing them to record the details is too much.

With someone’s ID number and other personal details a criminal can easily get up to mischief. We heard recently of a case where an employee of a company was taking copies of customer’s credit card and personal details and was feeding them to a large credit card fraud ring. Lost of people came close to losing lots of money.

So be careful. Help the store by proving your identity but don’t leave the proof behind!

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