Charge Card Fraud, Misuse, and Abuse

» Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Business Practices, Industry Postings, Payment Methods | 0 comments


  • Keep your government travel charge card in sight at all times and exposed no longer than necessary.  Skimming of a charge card occurs when someone to whom you have given your charge card for payment (such as a cashier or waitperson) swipes the card into a portable electronic device, gathering all the personal information the card contains.  Also, if your card is exposed any length of time, someone can take a picture of your charge card with a camera or cell phone in order to capture charge card information.
  • Place your charge card in a safe, unexposed place immediately after making a purchase.  If you are making a purchase over the telephone, make sure you are in a private area where someone will not be able to hear your transaction.
  • Make sure you shred anything with your charge card number on it.  This is especially important with charge card billing statements and charge card receipts.
  • Avoid giving out your charge card information.  Only give out your charge card number or other sensitive information on calls you have initiated.  Do not return calls to a number left on your answering machine.
  • Be careful using your charge card online.  Do not click on email links from anyone pretending to be your bank, charge card company, or other business that uses your personal information.  Only use your charge card number on a secure website.
  • Contact the charge card company to report lost or stolen charge cards immediately.  If you do not report your charge card lost or stolen immediately, the chance of fraudulent charges being applied to your travel card is much greater.  Many companies have a toll-free number and 24-hour customer service to deal with such emergencies.
  • Save your transaction receipts to aid in reviewing your billing statement each month for unauthorized charges.   Look for transactions you do not recall making; check for unknown vendors; and, search for account withdrawals you do not remember making.  If you find an unauthorized charge or withdrawal, contact your charge card company immediately.  Most likely, the charge card company will close your card and reissue a new travel card.
  •  Be aware of common charge card scams.  If you are unsure of a situation, contact your bank.
  • When using an ATM, make sure you are in a safe, well-lit area.  Beware of anyone who may be looking over your shoulder as you type in your PIN, also known as shoulder surfers.  Do not use an obvious PIN and do not use privately owned ATMs.


Misuse can be defined as an unintentional transaction completed using your government travel charge card.  The travel card is meant to be used for costs associated with official government travel only.  Some examples are: airline tickets, rental cars, lodging, meals, gasoline, taxis, parking, and incidental expenses.   Your travel card has been embossed with your name on it.  It is for your use only.  No other member of your family, office, or agency is authorized to use it.  Do not allow anyone to hold or make hotel reservations using your travel card.  Be aware that misuse of the travel charge card could result in disciplinary action by your agency.


Abuse can be defined as the cardholder completing a deliberate unlawful transaction on his or her own travel charge card.  There are times when a cardholder may need extra money and will use his or her government travel charge card to withdraw money from an ATM or bank when, in fact, the cardholder is not on official government travel.

Agencies monitor travel card usage and have ways (mainly using bank reports) of knowing when someone is making excessive cash withdrawals and whether the cardholder is actually on official government travel at the time of the withdrawals.

Agencies also will put in place charge card controls such as Merchant Category Codes (MCC).  MCCs are codes applied to a merchant and then supplied to the banking institution.  Each agency has the ability to determine which codes they want to block.  A blocked code will cause your government travel card to decline, thus controlling deliberate abuse.

There are still cardholders abusing their government travel charge card that will fall through the cracks.  These cardholders assume as long as they pay their balance every month, the abuse will go unnoticed.

By: Robyn Rice

“The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.”

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