I am going for an Internship in San Francisco this Summer and I am seeking a place to live. I was told by a local university there to contact Paramount Student Housing, which offers a place (herbert hotel) 3 blocks away from my office.

Moreover what the offer seems reasonable for the price. However, at my last (almost done) trip, I had a bad experience, where someone tried to trick me, offering me a house, which was actually located in Japan, rather in Switzerland which was my destination. I could only tell by searching the pictures she sent me.

So now, even if the communication with Paramout Student Housing seems OK, they require these documents:

  1. Copy of your passport or driver's license/ID
  2. Copy of your I-20 or visa or company internship approved letter or any other school enrollment confirmation paper
  3. Copy of credit card - front and back
  4. Filled out Credit card authorization form attached (document)
  5. Signed Kitchen agreement attached
  6. Signed Smoking Addendum attached.

I am worried about the 3rd document, why they want that? I might overreact, I know, but I am afraid..What would you say? In my previous trips, I stayed in popular hotels, so I have no experience.

closed as off-topic by JoErNanO, Vince, Maître Peseur, CGCampbell, Gayot Fow Apr 6 '16 at 15:07

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    Actually, I retract that. I read it as accommodation for 'housing' etc as a student, but it's really more about why a hotel would require a credit card. – Mark Mayo Apr 5 '16 at 10:46
  • Can you make a new card with zero credit limit, put enough money there for the housing, and send them a scan of that? – Serge Seredenko Apr 5 '16 at 14:53
  • @SergeSeredenko I think that's a great idea, but I think what would work just as well is something like the Visa Gift Card that works just like a credit card. The benefit of that card is what you mentioned, it's a zero credit limit card that you can put money on. The other benefit is that it doesn't affect your credit if you have to get rid of the card. – dakre18 Apr 5 '16 at 15:18
  • The bank I use offers "shopsafe" numbers, generated on demand and good only for one merchant with a limit and expiration date I can set. Maybe yours has a similar feature, or can offer a "traveller" card with a different number if you ask. – JDługosz Apr 5 '16 at 17:12
  • As a sidenote, I'd be somewhat concerned about noise at the Herbert Hotel in SF. It's smack dab in the middle of tourist central and next to the cable car, which tends to ring its bell a lot. If you're sensitive to noise, you might want to look elsewhere. – Zach Lipton Apr 5 '16 at 18:43

Why do they want item 3? Almost certaily so they can charge your card either now or in the future, and probably whether you show up or not. You should check what the cancellation terms etc are for this stay.

You should also read this question, and note some of the risks involved in just emailing out your credit card details.

As for ensuring the offer of accomodation is legitimate - firstly, hopefully your hosting institution can be trusted to only point you towards genuine accomodation providers. On top of that, you can do research - are there reviews of student accomodation by students in SF, and do they mention this place with these owners. Is there a building that could match the description/photos at the location when you look on Street View at the address (remembering that streetview can be a few years old in some cases, although probably not in SF). Can you get any of your contacts at your host instituion to do some due dilligence? Are the company offering the accomodation a legimiate organisation with registrations, addresses and contact details in line with what you would expect?

  • So I shouldn't give the details of my card, I will insist on paying while arriving there. – gsamaras Apr 5 '16 at 9:49
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    That's your choice - it's not unreasonable of them to what some guarantee of money if they are guarnteeing you a room and hence missing out on other business. But unencrypted emails containing scans of CC details are not even removtley secure, so you might want to arrange payment another way. – CMaster Apr 5 '16 at 9:51
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    CMaster that's what I told them in first place and they said me to fax that information, they might also believe I have a T-Rex for a pet. Thanks for the info. – gsamaras Apr 5 '16 at 10:40
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    @gsamaras You might be able to arrange a phone call to give your credit card information over the phone, which would be somewhat more secure. – GalacticCowboy Apr 5 '16 at 13:38
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    This basically comes down to the place trading @gsamaras's security for their own. By having a scanned copy of the physical card they feel more secure than just having the pertinent info read to them or entered into a secure web checkout system. Essentially they don't want to take the chance that it's a stolen card and seeing the card makes them have a little bit more peace of mind that it isn't stolen. They don't consider the increase in risk to their customers that it becomes stolen. I'm not saying this idea is going to be effective just that it is probably what they're thinking. – Dean MacGregor Apr 5 '16 at 13:48

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