Can a hotel keep my credit card "on file" without my permission?
I just got my credit card statement and noticed there was a charge from a local hotel for $220. When I called them to contest the charge (I had not stayed there) they said it was a mix-up as my credit card is on file with them from my wedding the previous year when I reserved a block of rooms. One of the guests had come back to stay and somehow even though he had paid for his room previously it kicked it back to my card when he said charge it to my card for this trip! I did not give them permission to keep this card on file and especially not for this long! Can they do this? What can I do?
There is no legal liability for keeping billing or credit card information on file--only for using it improperly. Many businesses regularly keep billing and payment information on file--sometimes deliberately, sometimes out of simple inertia. You can ask them to destroy it, of course, but I'm not aware that there is a legal obligation to do so. The only obligation is to not misuse it or to allow others to misuse it.
That said, you would be well-advised to send them a nice, polite, but firm letter asking them to destroy the info. That way, if there is a misuse and you are forced to take legal action, by establishing that you had requested the information to be destroyed, you will be able to further insulate yourself from any liability or consequences and possibly be in a place to seek additional damages.