How the Hell Did They Steal My Credit Card – What To Do And How To Prevent It

Credit card stolen

Have you ever had a credit card stolen?  How about a debit card stolen?  It makes no difference if you have a debit card or credit card stolen, you should react in the same way.

It was a Saturday afternoon and my wife was paying bills.  She saw some purchases on the credit card that she did not recognize.  “Sweetie, did you buy something from a printer in Alabama?” she asked.  “What are you talking about?” I asked.  I looked at the computer and there were three transactions made with our Visa credit card.  Our credit card was stolen.

How Was My Credit Card Stolen

How could have this happened?  I still had my credit card in my pocket.  At the same time I am using my card in Florida, someone else is using my card in Alabama.  The most likely scenario is that someone at a restaurant copied my credit card information when the card was taken to the back to pay my bill. Once they have my information, they can create a duplicate or counterfeit card.

What Do I Do When My Credit Card is Stolen

  1. Call Your Credit Card Company – You should call your credit card company immediately when your credit card is stolen. Your credit card is most likely covered by a zero liability guarantee.  However, that guarantee is only good if you notify them immediately.  Don’t think that you can lie to them and tell them you just found out if you delay.  Every time you receive alerts, call in, or go online, your activity is noted in their system.
    • Tip – Document all of your financial phone numbers in one place.  For my low tech readers, write these on a piece of paper along with the last four numbers of your account.  You do not need to record the full account number.  Every company can find your account using your Social Security number when you call.  For my high tech readers, there is an App for that.  I prefer Lemon Wallet.   Lemon Wallet lets you take a picture of your credit cards and debit cards and record their customer service phone numbers.
  2. Check Your Credit Report.  Any time your have a financial breach, you need to follow up and check your credit report.  Make sure that there have been no new accounts opened in your name.  You can find more information about checking your credit in the Your Credit Report Learning Series.

How Can I Prevent My Credit Card From Being Stolen

  1. Get a Good Quality Shredder – The most common way that identity thieves still operate is off line, not online.  Make sure you shred any financial paperwork (bills, statements, letters, etc.) before recycling them.  Amazon has a good one for $50.
  2. Pay With Cash At Restaurants – Pay cash instead of giving your credit card to someone where they can walk out of sight with it.  In some cases, restaurants are providing payment machines at the table – use those when the opportunity present itself.
  3. Sign Up for Alerts and Download the Mobile App – Your bank or credit card company should be able to send you a text alert every time your credit card or debit card is charged.  Sign up for these alerts.  You will be notified almost immediately anytime something is charged to your card.  You can also download the bank’s mobile app and review your transactions everyday.  Do this while you are waiting in line at some point throughout the day.

Have you had your credit card stolen?  Let me know what you did to prevent your credit card from being stolen in the comments.

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