Finding Out a Stranger Rented a Car Using Your Account

a woman in a convertible car

Ever have this happen to you? I woke up this morning and had a “Thank you for renting from Budget” email in my inbox. I hadn’t rented a car from Budget in at least a year so I figured it was a survey system glitch that had emailed the wrong list.

30 minutes later the e-receipt arrived. I figured it was another glitch but I opened it up to see. There was my name, my FastBreak number, and a familiar-looking last four digits of an AMEX card. I panicked a little bit. Life is a little crazy right now and I’m not paying attention to details like I should. Did I miss somone hacking into my account?

And how did someone leave the car rental facility using my name and information? Aren’t they supposed to check your ID against the reservation on your way out?

I pulled up my Budget FastBreak account and sure enough, the mysterious rental was showing as completed in my profile. The card on file was not the AMEX though. I checked all my AMEX accounts and didn’t see any charges pending, so at least it looked like I hadn’t paid for this problem. But still…if someone could hack my account and rent a car under my name, what other, more important, accounts did I need to worry about??

So I called Budget and got Mike, who was really helpful. I explained the issue and he started digging in.

  • It had been booked on Expedia (I immediately rushed to check what info I had stored in my Exepdia account)…
  • My card on file had been manually overriden and the AMEX had been swiped at the rental car counter.

What!? I asked if it was possible the agent had just accidentally selected my account. Mike investigated further.

  • The name of the cardholder was Kerri Anderson.
  • She had a driver’s license from the same state.

Whew. No one had hacked my account, it was just unusual similarities that led to human error. I’m *almost* surprised something like this hadn’t happened sooner.

Not a big deal afterall. BUT it does highlight a potential issue I hadn’t thought about and I’ve decided to remove the credit cards on file from any loyalty accounts with infrequent use. It will be a little inconvenient and the problem probably won’t ever happen again, but it can’t hurt just in case I don’t notice something in my inbox.

Ever had something like this happen to you?

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  1. Much worse. I had a reservation from Hertz at IAD. They assigned me a Toyota Corolla for my Presidents Club full size. I declined it, told them to cancel my reservation and took an Uber instead. Two days letter, I get the email receipt. Over the next 6 weeks I called Customer Service twice and left two voice mails at the IAD. No response to anything. So I gave up and disputed the charge on my Mileage Plus Visa. The charge was credited back and I thought all was well. I started getting bills from Hertz in the mail . I sent each one back to the address noted saying I didn’t rent a car and cancelled the reservation. No response. Six months later, I got a letter from Hertz saying I was no longer welcome to rent from Hertz. The I started getting letters from a collection agency. My Gold account was closed and 20,000 Gold Rewards points were deleted. The next time I was at IAD I went in and hunted down a manager. It all got fixed but it took hours of effort on my part. Needless to say, I don’t use Hertz any more at IAD.

  2. Hah, for a couple of years, the Intercontinental in Shanghai had been crediting IHG rewards points to me for another Edward Chan. I was pretty sure it was a mistake as I had no credit card charges, or anything else to show for the stay. Still, I called IHG to let them know, changed my 4 digit PIN (why does IHG still use 4 digit PINs??), and confirmed my email and physical addresses with them after the first stay.

  3. I have a fairly common family name and registered it very soon after Gmail opened for business, using my given name initial and my full family name. I have never had a car rented in my name but I fairly often, at least once a month, get email for others with the same surname and the same first letter for their given name. Earlier this week I got a file opened with a support company for a technical issue. The company took some persuading that I was telling the truth and that I really did want confirmation that they had removed my email address from their system!

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