You Won A Free Cruise! Now, What's Your Credit Card Number?

Allison filled out one of those “win a free cruise” forms at a local cask ale festival and almost got dunked in a barrel o’ scam fun for her troubles. Here’s her story:

Allison writes:

Last weekend I went to the Chelsea Cask Ale Festival. I signed up for a chance to win a free cruise at a table inside, and promptly forgot about it after downing a few well-crafted traditional ales.

What a great surprise it was this morning to be called and informed that I had won an 8-night fantasy vacation. Although I had a hard time believing I had actually won, the odds of winning among a few hundred people didn’t strike me as astronomical, and the employees stationed in the Ale Festival seemed to represent a perfectly legitimate cruise company.

The phone rep painstakingly went through the details of the vacation: 3 days in Orlando, 2 nights on the cruise, 3 more in Orlando. Orlando isn’t my version of paradise, and a glorified gambling junk not my ideal form of transportation, but given my delightful entry-level job, even free bread baskets are enough to get me excited. Tack on all meals included, spa packages, car rentals, and a 2 for 1 airfare, and the phone rep was dealing with a giddy girl already dreaming of a nice tan and a chance to kick back with my boy.

I almost missed the minor catch: The representative kept on quoting a ‘two-ninety-nine’ fee necessary to secure my reservations, which I interpreted as $2.99, but came to understand as $299. And oh, how concerned my friend was that I had sufficient funds to afford this fee! It got weirder by the minute:

Sales rep: I see that you wrote down you use a Visa on your entry form?

Me: What? No. I use a Mastercard. [Note: The entry form never asked for credit card info]

Sales rep: I see. What is the full name on the card?

Me: [I say my full name]

Sales rep: Great! What’s the expiration date?

Me: Ummm…..[I say the date]

Sales rep: Now, just for security purposes, what are the last four digits of your card number?

Allison cut off the exchange shortly thereafter. I wouldn’t be surprised if later in the conversation they would have had Allison giving them the full credit card number.

Did you have any other friends who went to the festival who entered the cruise drawing? It’d be interesting to hear if they “won” as well.

Any kind of enter to win contest isn’t because the company wants to do a neat and fun promotion, it’s for lead generation, sometimes for purposes more fell than just an annoying telemarketer.

RELATED: Travel Scams: How to Recognize and Avoid Them [Cruisemates]

(Photo: zenera)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.