Your purse or wallet gets stolen. You know what to do. Cancel all your cards immediately, file a police report, put a freeze on your credit, and move on with your life.
But what do you do when you don’t know your purse was stolen?
My mother and sister left their purses in the car last week while they took a walk along the beach. They returned, the car was as it was when they left, and the purses were still sitting under the seats. At their next stop, my mother pulled out her wallet and noticed it was buttoned shut – something she never does. Finding the situation odd, she checked the rest of her wallet and noticed one credit card was gone. Confused, she asked my sister to carefully look through her wallet. As with my mother, everything was perfectly in its place – but one credit card was missing.
Had the wallet been left unbuttoned, she, nor my sister, would have noticed the missing credit cards and wouldn’t have known to report them stolen.
Welcome to the new trend in ID/credit theft.
Thieves steal ONE card and leave everything else. Rather than have minutes to hours before cardholders cancel the card, thieves have days, even up to WEEKS, to use the card without you noticing. In this case, the thief only had enough time to use one of the two stolen cards before my mother and sister cancelled them. Had he or she left the wallet unbuttoned, there would have been loads of time to use both.
So what can you do?
First, NEVER leave your purse or wallet in the car. Some of you are saying, ‘Duh!’ while rolling your eyes, but I know there are a good number of you who do this regularly – my husband and many of my friends included.
Second, try to never leave your purse or wallet unattended. Make sure it’s locked up at work and if you have guests over to your home, put purses and wallets in a secure location. It seems silly, but sadly, it’s something we have to do.
Third, don’t carry cards you don’t use. I know it’s tempting to carry all 17 credit cards ‘just in case’, but if you use credit cards, limit yourself to one or two and place them in a location you can see every time you open your wallet.
Fourth, pay attention. If something feels off, double check to make sure everything is there. Don’t shake off a feeling. I’m glad my mom didn’t.