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Obama’s credit card denied at eatery due to lack of use

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    President Barack Obama delivered remarks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday in Washington. Obama signed an executive order to improve security measures for government credit and debit cards.
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WASHINGTON » The Secret Service is charged with watching the president’s back, but who’s watching his wallet?

When his credit card was declined last month while dining in New York, President Barack Obama wondered whether he had become a victim of identity theft.

"It turned out, I guess I don’t use it enough," Obama said Friday at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

"They thought there was some fraud going on," he said, chatting while announcing a government plan to tighten security for debit cards that transfer federal benefits like Social Security to millions of Americans.

"I was trying to explain to the waitress, ‘No, I really think that I’ve been paying my bills.’"

Fortunately, first lady Michelle Obama was able to whip out a credit card they could use.

Identity theft is a growing problem, and an estimated 100 million people have been affected by security breaches in the past year at retailers like Target and Home Depot.

"Even I’m affected by this," he said.

Employees at Estela, the New York restaurant where Obama dined Sept. 24 while attending the U.N. General Assembly, said they couldn’t discuss the credit card issue.

Photos of the president’s order had been posted on the restaurant’s Instagram page but have since been taken down. The food blog, Epicurius, captured the images and detailed the order in a Sept. 25 post, saying the first couple ate "two orders of endive salad and burrata with salsa verde, tomatoes, and salt cod croquettes."

By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press

Associated Press writer Jacob Pearson in New York contributed to this report.
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