What is Tip Fraud?
Tip fraud occurs when unscrupulous restaurant servers modify credit card receipts in order to receive a higher tip. Waiters and waitresses that are unhappy with the tip amount might add $5 or $10 to the tip line of credit card receipts. For example, let's say you went out to lunch and your service was abysmal, so you left a tip of 10%.
The server feels that this is unfair, and modifies the tip by changing writing a 9 over the 4 in the tip. Changing the 3 to an 8 in the "Total" line is also trivial.
While it is difficult to prevent these alterations, you can make it easier to identify modified amounts on your credit card statements by using a checksum or palindrome tip technique.
Paying with cash is the only surefire way to avoid becoming a victim of tip fraud. If you pay with a credit card, you should check your credit card receipts against the charged amount that appears on your statement. Comparing receipts to statements is a tedious task. However, if you use a checksum or palindrome technique, you can almost always catch tip fraud without having to compare your receipts to your statements. Both the checksum or palindrome methods:
- Allow you to make a quick scan of your credit card statement, and
- Allow you to verify that no adjustments have been made to the amount you charged.
If you do notice a suspicious transaction, retrieve your copy of the receipt to confirm that it doesn't match the amount on your statement. Then, do the following:
- Notify your credit card issuer. They should credit you the difference between the actual amount and the amount you paid due to this fraud.
- Notify the restaurant. The manager will want to know if there is a dishonest employee and might even offer you free meal or discount for your troubles.
- Notify the police and report the crime (optional). Even if the tip fraud was just a small amount, reporting it to the police will help build a case against and protect others from the thieving server.
There is a chance that your server didn't intentionally commit tip fraud. Perhaps he or she was in a rush, and accidentally hit the wrong keys when entering the amount. Please consider this before reporting your potentially innocent server.