Someone Stole My Credit Card – What To Do?

Thief StealJust when I said nothing much happens with my credit card, somebody goes ahead and steals my credit card! But perhaps “stealing” is the wrong word to use in this situation, so let me clarify.

The last place I used my credit card was at the local Kelly Moore paint store. I remember taking it out, but not taking it back before I left. I remember the clerk who swiped my card for $43 for a gallon of hybrid paint. Yet, when I called back a day later to see if they had my card, the clerk said “no.”

Then I went back to the store the next day to ask the employees face-to-face if anybody saw my card. I can usually tell if someone is lying if I look them straight in the eye and ask them an important question. The manager on duty, whom I’ve seen the last four out of five times I’ve gone, hesitated and blurted out “nobody has told me about a missing credit card” before I finished asking my question. It was as if he already knew what I was going to ask. Hmmm.

I gave him my contact details in case anybody finds anything, and told him that someone took the card and went across the Bay to a Berkeley gas station and charged it up. The only way you can charge a credit card for gas is if you put in the credit card holder’s zip code. Given my zip code is the same zip code as the paint store, and the paint store was the last place I used the card, chances are high that one of the employees decided to keep my card and use it without my permission. (Thought: Perhaps change your credit card billing address to your work address so the zip codes are different)

It really stinks feeling suspicious of others. Everybody but one person in the store is innocent. Unfortunately, I no longer feel comfortable going there anymore.

When I was paying at the register one visit, one of the clerks asked me about the Frog Tape I was buying. “Hey, you trying to paint a straight line, or something?”

“Yeah, the line where the wall meets the trim,” I responded.

“I got a secret on how to paint a straight line real easy,” he said. “But it’ll cost you 5 bucks.”

I laughed, thinking he was joking as I admired his tattoos of serpent heads. I waited for him to tell me the secret, but he never did! WTF. I can appreciate a good hustle, but trying to personally extract another $5 after I’ve already spent $600 at the store is low quality.

FIVE STEPS TO TAKE IF YOUR CREDIT CARD IS STOLEN

1) Don’t panic. If your entire wallet is stolen (one of the worst feelings ever), then panic! It’s really the process of having to get a new driver’s license and any other government-issued card that is the real PITA. But if only a credit card is stolen, no problem! I love credit cards because practically every single credit card has fraud protection.

2) Give your credit card company a ring. Simply give your credit card company a call, tell them your card was stolen, and they will reverse the fraudulent charges, cancel your card, and issue you a new one in the mail. If you’ve got any history with the credit card, you can call for rush delivery, free of charge. Otherwise, it generally takes 5-7 business days to get a new card. Use this time to practice consumption restraint and pay for only things in cash. It’ll be good for you.

3) Ask your credit card company for info and concessions. You might as well use the time when canceling to ask them whether they can lower your interest rate, raise your credit limit (if necessary), and remind you of their insurance program and other perks the credit card offers. When a customer loses a credit card, credit card companies know this is a sensitive and critical time for them to show good service. It’s also a critical time when customers tend to leave. Be assertive in your demands for concessions.

4) Shop around for another credit card. If you are not completely satisfied with the rate and services your existing credit card provides, shop around for a different credit card. If your credit card company is unhelpful during your loss and won’t credit back any charges, then definitely say goodbye. There are literally thousands of credit cards to choose from. A rewards credit card or a cash back credit card is definitely a must. Given I travel about 10 weeks a year, a travel credit card is a no brainer for me.

5) Contact all vendors who use your card for auto-pay. List out vendors where they have your credit card on file. If you can’t remember, peruse through your e-mails to jog your memory. I’m lucky in that I only have my Netflix account, my insurance account, and my GoDaddy account where I have my URL to change. Some people I know have 10+ accounts on autopay, which is smart until you have to change your card. A good way to hedge against such an event is to spread around two or more cards around your vendors.

THE UPSIDE OF CHANGING YOUR CREDIT CARD

Every time I go through this process of changing my credit card I look on the bright side of the hassle. A new credit card on file means that anybody close to hacking your credit card info has to start all over. We’re essentially making it difficult for other people to steal from us online.

It would be nice if credit card companies automatically changed our credit card numbers once a year and vendors automatically updated our accounts with the new numbers. But, the next best thing is to do it ourselves. We should never fear losing money with a credit card given the safeguards they have in place.

Photo credit: Rennet Stowe, Creative Commons

FAVORITE CREDIT CARDS

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® – Hawaiian Airlines is hands down the best airlines in America. Their service is impeccable, they provide food, snacks, and drinks included in your air fare, and each seat comes with a USB charger. This Hawaiian Airlines card gives 35,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days, gives you one complimentary bag to check-in, and a one-time 50% off discount off your companion’s air fare! Round-trip ticket prices range from $450 – $1,200, so that’s a $225 – $600 savings right there to paradise! You also get $100 off a companion tick for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and North America each year, 1 point for every $1 spent, and 5,000 annual bonus miles after $10,000 in annual spend. The annual fee is only $89. Oahu is my home state and it is the most beautiful place to vacation!

Barclaycard® Ring MasterCard® – 1% Back on Balance Transfers – This great card has the lowest APR I’ve seen in the market today at 8% compared to the average credit card interest rate is 15%. You get 1% back on all balance transfers made in the first 60 days of opening an account and there is no annual fee or balance transfer fee. There’s a fantastic social community of Ring MasterCard holders once you join to interact with and save money.

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

You can sign up to receive his articles via email or by RSS. Sam also sends out a private quarterly newsletter with information on where he's investing his money and more sensitive information.

Subscribe To Private Newsletter

Comments

  1. says

    We just entered the world of credit cards, so we haven’t had an issue with them yet. My debit card was just caught up in the Target data breech and my bank sent me a new one, without me even contacting them. However, it would not activate and they cancelled the other one!!! It left me without a card of my own, but my mother in law had previously given me a credit card for “just in case”, so I had to use that for gas to get our newborn to all her checkups until we could get ANOTHER debit card that would activate.

    Lesson learned: it’s smart to have more than one card, no matter what kind.

  2. says

    Makes me grateful for the UK system which requires a pin code for all card purchases, and a password for any online purchases. Was a bit unnerving when I was recently in the states and it only needed a signature for payment.. Especially when the waiters actually took the card away to swipe it.

    It can’t be too difficult to implement a chip and pin system for purchases, surely?

    • matrix says

      I am an American who recently relocated to London and now all my cards are chip and pin. At first I was skeptical but I love the system. If my card is lost or stole. It can’t be used (not even online as there is a addional online code I have set up).

      • says

        Exactly, it’s a great system. I also love that we can use any other bank’s cash machines for free as well. I guess there’s a disincentive for the American banks to implement that though.

        • says

          Whats to be skeptical about? The other added advantage is that you need to be with your card for them to process it.. so it never leaves your sight. They have to bring a card reader with pin pad over to you.

          • Catie says

            I figured I would pop into this thread. I live in Florida and recently received a new card with the chip technology. Unfortunately the first couple of times I used it I was neither asked for a pin or a signature via any self serve checkout lane. So that card is now toast. Anyone could take it and use it.

            I have lost a card before and I must admit a replacement has always been extremely easy.

    • says

      It must be funny to “only” have to sign for a card coming from the UK. It’s unnerving that someone could just use my card without signing and just punching in my zip code!

      It probably will costs billions to change to the chip system. The US loves to waste money.

  3. Matt says

    I’ve had my USAA Mastercard hacked/stolen about 3/4 times in the 8 years I’ve had it. Usually happens after I visit rural gas stations oddly enough. I usually catch it right away because I check my account every other day. *financial OCD* I’ve never had a problem getting the money reimbursed and new card sent to me right away so I don’t even fear credit card fraud that much any more. My Amex has never been hacked, though I’ve only had it for a year and a half. *knocks on wood*

    I do fear debit card losses, so I don’t even carry that around with me anymore unless I know I need it, which I would recommend to everyone. I am amazed at the people who carry their lives in their wallets – seriously folks, do an audit of cards you don’t use regularly and leave em at home.

    I supposed if you really want to be secure you can always call the cc company and ask them to reissue a new card every year?

      • Another Reader says

        There are a couple of stores that take cash or debit only. I shop at these stores for their prices on stuff I need, so I need either cash or a debit card. I have a debit card that links to a free checking account with a fairly small balance. I replenish the account as the balance drops. If the card is stolen or hacked, I simply switch accounts and cards temporarily until the problem is resolved.

        Kelly Moore is a small company. If you bring the incident to the attention of the corporate office, I’m sure they will deal with the problem.

  4. g says

    Lost my AMEX at the gas station (must have dropped after I swiped/when I was getting into the car). Someone used it to get full tank probably about $60+. I called AMEX and the charges were refunded and a new card within 3 days. That is service. I never had anyone using my card online – although others do. I think downloading stuff and getting malware or adware is another way to be open to credit card theft! I know of people who get ripped like this.

  5. says

    I’ve had fraudulent charges show up every so often but so far the company has reversed the charges every single time. I really havent had any major issues with that thankfully. I would MUCH rather have my credit card stolen rather than my debit card.

    • says

      Agreed. I wonder why folks use debit cards nowadays. Perhaps because they can’t get a credit card? The thing is, people with no money (students) get offered credit cards, so I wonder what gives. Maybe they screwed their previous credit it.

  6. says

    A couple years ago I was working out of state, about a thousand miles from home, and after a 13 hour shift went to Walmart to grab some stuff to make dinner. I remember paying for my items and when I got to the hotel to unlock my hotel door, I couldn’t find my wallet. I searched the car and it wasn’t there. So now I had no access to my room, no ID, no cash, and no cards, This was certainly not a good scenario. When I went back to Walmart I retraced my steps and didn’t find it and talked to the cashier and she hadn’t seen it. Thankfully someone else had found it and turned it into the customer service desk, I guess I got lucky that day! I must have dropped it when I went to put it in my pocket. Thankfully the person who found my wallet was trustworthy, I like to think that most people are.

    • says

      That’s definitely one of the worst and BEST feelings ever! Maybe you can track them down and send them a gift.

      My wallet fell out of my pocket when I was doing situps at the beach. A person found it, turned it into an officer, and the officer rang my doorbell that afternoon!

  7. says

    His Sam,

    What a great point about making some lemonade from the lemons and being in a great position to ask for a concession or two! Especially if your numbers get compromised without you losing physical possession of the card. I’ve had cc numbers stolen in the past two years from cards by three different card issuers. I’ve received no-worry resolutions each time, and the final question I always get from the card companies is “Is there anything else we can do for you today, Mr Miller?” To which I always answer, “as a matter of fact there is”…

  8. says

    Hopefully I’ll never need this, but this is good information to know for it I do! And I had never really though about the autopay stuff, but we have our health insurance being auto paid to our credit card, and if we miss a payment on that, we are disenrolled for a year. Definitely something to think about!

  9. says

    That’s absolutely awful that the manager seemed to know what was going on, and the employee asking for $5 sounds really shady. I would not be going back there, either. Thankfully I’ve never been in this situation, but it’s too common, and you offer some great tips that I wouldn’t have thought of in the moment!

  10. Josh says

    Sorry to hear about your credit card loss. It’s just a big hassle more than anything. I lost my wallet with 3 credit cards, license, and about $100 bucks many years ago in a gym locker. Someone actually picked a master’s combo lock. The biggest hassle was to get the new cards and the license. I didn’t have any fraud charges since I called my credit card company immediately afterwards.
    I’ve also forgotten my credit cards twice in two different restaurants, but luckily both times the restaurant managers held it for me when I called the next day to find out if I left it, so hopefully there are more honest people out there.

      • Josh says

        No, they didn’t offer much help. It happened in 24hr fitness in Mt View in 2007. I told the mgmt and they said they couldn’t really do much without witnesses and asked me to file a police report if I wanted. I decided it wasn’t worth it. I had cheap cell phone at the time and the crazy thing is they didn’t take that.

  11. says

    Oh man, sorry to hear that. I’d probably never go back to that store if I had the same experience. I only have 2 credit cards so it’d be a huge deal if I lost one. I probably need to get a backup credit card.

  12. says

    I had my credit card stolen once and some charges were made, but I called the company and they cancelled it, sent me a new credit card, and gave me my money back while they investigated what happened. A few weeks later, they concluded that it was indeed stolen and no further moves had to be made on my part.

    It really only takes a phone call. You just have to be aware of it missing before the thief could put too much money on the card.

  13. Dain says

    Have you thought about contacting the police? There are security cameras everywhere these days. If your cc was used at a gas station they likely have the person on tape committing the crime.

    • g says

      I thought of that too but AMEX informed me that that is something they will follow up with the gas station to provide evidence on who used the card and move from there.

    • says

      If the charge was huge, and my credit card company didn’t credit back the erroneous charges or offer to help, I definitely would. But, all CC companies have pretty beefy anti-fraud departments.

  14. says

    That seems very odd. I’m sorry that this happened to you! My credit card number was stolen the other day and it was a credit card I still had in my wallet and hadn’t used in months. Luckily, Chase caught the transaction quickly because it was used in New York at a camera store.

  15. Shaun says

    Slightly embarrassing but I’ve accidentally left my credit card at bars all throughout my 20’s. I’ve found cancelling them and getting a new one in the mail much easier and less shameful than looking for it at the scene of the crime haha.

    I only take one credit card out with me at a time and leave the rest at home. Particularly anything I pay online bills with never leaves the house. This way if I lose a card all I need to do is have a 2 second phone call with the bank take another card from my house that’s lying around and I’m back in business good as new.

    • says

      Hahaha, yeah, I’ve done that before. I always just call the next morning and ask to retrieve it. I only had once where someone racked like $20 more in drinks I didn’t pay on it. I decided not to dispute. Not a big deal. My fault for leaving it there.

      When I start to piecemeal my wallet by taking only what I need, I tend to lose things in my pants. I’ll forget to put the items back into my wallet, and then when I leave w/ my wallet I’ll end up driving without an ID and credit card or something!

  16. says

    Sometimes when you are paying for something and having a conversation, you are on autopilot and can get sloppy i.e. forgetting to get your card back. This happens to me when I am rushed and thinking about so many other things I need to do. Consequently, I try to really concentrate during that time. Too bad that a dishonest employee took advantage. Frustrating that there are people like this. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go back to that store.

  17. Paul says

    My stolen credit card numbers have purchased $9000 of merchandise from a billiards store in Texas and $3500 of merch from a store that sells Hawaiian shirts in California. Never had an actual card stolen though.

    I recently read an article about how the pros spot liars written by an ex CIA agent. The response you got from the manager was a way of disassociating himself from the crime he likely had knowledge of. An honest person would have just said “No”. The author went on to say that you can never be certain of a lie without in depth analysis of a conversation. I wish I could provide a link to the article but u didn’t save it.

    • says

      Hmm, that’s interesting. That could be the case on knowledge and disassociation. I guess I can be pretty intimidating when unhappy too, so maybe he was just nervous as my eyes pierced through his soul.

  18. says

    I am so used to having our debit card having problems we completely stopped and went credit. Not worth the hassle or the small extra money from the credit union. Stolen credit card can get charges pulled off. Stolen cash….well good luck.

  19. David M says

    I lost my card once – fell out of my overcoat and I had Acari stolen from my wallet at the gym once. Yes, I. Did NOT have a lock on my locker.

    The card that was lost – $900 spent at a Hard Rock Cafe.

    The card that was stolen, about $3,000 at a Sears.

    Good news for me, I did not pay anything for these charges.

    I just have a question of the credit card industry, why don’t you require that ID be shown when a purchase is over $100?

    Both of these events happened over 10 years ago.

    I must get 10 or so fraud alert calls from citibank every year and everyone is always a legiimate purchase at a store that I have shopped at in the past. What is up with that?????

  20. Caonex says

    I lose my wallet once every few years. (Not smart I know.) The people that find my wallet seem to be the nicest and most honest people on earth because I always get it back intact.

    Last time I lost my wallet was in the Detroit airport. I was doing my company expenses and just left it on the seat next to me when I left to board the plane. A few calls to the lost and found later and they sent me my wallet with the $100 I had in there. Thanks Good Samaritan, I will pay it forward.

  21. says

    I’m on of the suckers who has a ton of auto payments tied to one credit card. I lost mine earlier this year, replaced all of my auto pays, and then within a few weeks someone tried to buy $700 worth of groceries on my account in the middle of nowhere Ohio, so I had to cancel that card and get another new card and redo my auto pays all over again. Boy was I PO’d. Anyway, that’s done and dusted and hopefully won’t happen again for a while. But I agree with you it’s nice to flush out an old card number every now and then.

    • says

      What a PITA! $700 worth of groceries… must be a lot of alcohol or something. How do these folks get our credit card numbers and have them go through, I wonder. I’m at the grocery store and it requires a signature, an ID, etc. I wonder if the clerk is in cahoots.

  22. says

    That sucks! That’s a great idea to have credit card companies update the numbers once a year, although to get vendors to cooperate would probably be a little more difficult. But I wonder how much the credit card companies would save in fraud protection by doing that.

  23. says

    Sam,
    The last time my credit card was stolen was about 3 years ago. I was in Costa Rica and used it to charge a few hotel rooms over ten days. About a week after I got home, charges started showing up in the $10-$15 range, all at McDonald’s in Singapore! My guess is they were trying to spend amounts under a certain threshold to avoid flags and test it out. My card company didn’t flag it surprisingly, but luckily I saw it right away. Capital One quickly cancelled the card and sent me a new on without any problem.
    -RBD

  24. JayCeezy says

    life hack: paint a crisp straight line – one way to do it is to lay the tape on the trim tight against the wall, and smear a thin layer of interior tile caulk on the tape along the wall side. Let the caulk dry, cut the line with a brush, and pull the tape. The caulk prevents the ‘seep’ under/through the edge of the tape, which makes the line a little less-than-crisp.

    life hack 2: paint a patch of the new paint in the morning, so you can see it all day. That way if you want a change lighter or darker, you won’t have to repaint the whole wall. The paint doesn’t always look like the chip sample we see under fluorescent light in the paint store.

    FS, sorry this happened with your credit card. People can be really disappointing. One thought (which may be a lot of work and not worth your while, now that the credit card company has made you whole) is to contact the Berkeley gas station. If it is a large-chain station, they will have video-surveillance of all the pumps, 1 frame every 8 seconds. If you can isolate the time and pump, you may be able to see the car and person. I don’t think this can be followed up by the cc company or law enforcement, but maybe you can hone your ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ skills; and it would make a great follow-up post.

      • JayCeezy says

        You are right, but you saved $5 and now know the ‘secret’ (I learned it from a dude at a hardware store, he is very generous with his time and knowledge, and the bit more I pay there is a fraction of the time and money he has saved me.) But for pro painters getting paid by the hour #1 is visibly better. Doing it myself, I don’t bother, either. Wait a minute…life hack: not all life hacks save you time or money

        #2 is great, I learned that the hard way when a ‘Goldenrod’ custom in the store became a ‘Brown Mustard’ in the living room.

        Completely understand letting this go. One thought is to e-mail Kelly Moore Customer Service, link this post (or cut-and-paste the story if you prefer to keep it personal). You better believe the story will get all the way back to the store, and let the employees and manager ponder on who the thief among them really is.

        One more thought on the painting, those $17 foam rubber kneepads are well worth it.

  25. says

    No stolen credit card for me yet. However, I am sure I had a very close run in. A restaurant in my college town had their system hijacked some how and within a couple of weeks they had stolen several hundred credit card numbers (including several police officers!). Having heard about it the day after I went I immediately called my bank to reissue the card. Luckily they did so before there was any damage done on my end, but with the high rate of theft they were experiencing it was just a matter of time.

  26. says

    I guess I’m wondering what’s the big deal? If my credit card gets stolen, who cares? I’ll report it when I get around to it. I check my accounts with Mint every day but even if I didn’t I would just call my cc company when I realize it and they will immediately refund and rush me a new card.

    Like you mention, if for some unknown reason you have a ton of auto-pays setup you can diversify among a few cards so that you’ll never have to change more than a couple.

    PS – I need to apply for a few more cards actually, my fico is getting too high haha 799 :)

  27. S says

    Off topic, but with the S&P closing above 2,000, what are people thinking? I took some money off the table today in my retirement account. I haven’t rebalanced in a while, so thought it was a good time to do so, but shifted a little more into cash than I have allocated. If there is a downturn, I’ll have some to reinvest. If not, it will slowly be reduced as a percentage of portfolio.

    Just wondering what others might be doing.

  28. says

    My wife’s purse was stolen years ago at work. The credit card was used at a hair salon. I reported it to the credit card company and they didn’t care. They just charged it back to the store. I think it is the easy way out for them and it wasn’t worth their time. My wife was sure who did it, but no one wanted to pursue it. There was a lot of inconvenience replacing the driver license and of course the value of the wallet, purse, etc.

    I always keep my wallet out until I get my card back to avoid these situations.

  29. Ricky says

    Man, I’d be more upset on the lack of professionalism from the clerk rather than one of them taking my card! Yeah, I’d probably skip that paint store next time all together too.

  30. says

    I just went through this exact thing. I used my card at a restaurant, couldn’t find it later, suspected I had left it there, called them and they said no, so got on my bank’s website and cancelled and ordered a new one.

    It is my best cash rewards card, so I have it tied to quite a few accounts that I’ve also had to switch over to a new account.

    I need to start thinking of the stuff that I do in life as possible topics for blogging…

  31. Garrett says

    Got a call from CitiBank at 5am San Diego time on Monday asking if I had just spent $3201 on Wal Mart.com. As soon as I replied no, they went through my last few days of charges with me, and closed the account. By Tuesday at 10am I had a new credit card being dropped off via FedEx. (Probably helps I put over 40k in spending on it last year, including part of my wedding and the honneymoon).

    They handled it great, but I did have to spend some time changing all my Auto Pays.

    They suspect it was a store compromise (no I don’t shop at Target) or from a gas station possibly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *