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What Happens When Your Wife’s Debit and Credit Cards Get Stolen

by The Happy Rock on February 20, 2008

We found out last night. That’s right, when I opened Quicken last night to reconcile the days transaction I noticed a $1.59 charge from a local Wawa. I consulted with the Rockette and we noticed that her whole purse was missing. Mild panic sets in, and we begin to retrace our days. The purse was most likely stolen from our car while parked outside our condo.

pickpocket.jpgI logged onto the ING Direct website only to notice 4 other posted transaction and about 10 pending transaction that weren’t ours. The charges were the aforementioned Wawa charged for $1.59, $90 from a local Target, 4 iTunes purchases for about $140 dollars, two TWX AOL SERVICE fees for $1.00 each, zubill.com for $29.95, lookuppay.com for $1.95, and 4 gas purchases for $60 dollars. 330 dollars in the span of one day. Luckily I check the account regularly so that I caught the fraud before more was spent.

There were a total of 3 debit cards and one credit card in her wallet. I quickly checked them all. Nothing on our Sunoco Credit Card, nothing on our NJM Bank debit card, and one Bed Bath and Beyond charge for $71 on our Wachovia check card.

The Rockette crawled out of bed, and we began calling all the cards one by one to report them stolen. We were on the phone the longest with ING, but the agent was kind enough to dispute the charges for us. Otherwise you can click on the little icon on the left side of the charge in the Electric Orange register to find out more information. This brings you to a screen with more transaction details where you can find a link to dispute the charge. Wachovia also quickly put in a dispute for the one charge over the phone. The whole process took about 45 minutes to cancel all of the cards.

The one thing that is helpful for people to realize is that you receive the same level of fraud protection with a debit card as you do with a credit card. Visa and Mastercard offer the same protection, except that with a debit card the money is already out of your account while the charges for credit card should be disputed before you have to pay any money. Both Wachovia and ING Electric Orange said they would credit the fraudulent amounts back into the account in a few days while the disputes are going on.

Hopefully, all the disputes clear fine and we don’t have any other issues. Crisis averted with hopefully just mild damage. Protect your wallets!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven February 21, 2008 at 4:57 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about your wife’s purse being stolen. My wallet has been stolen several times. The last time, I got some great advice from a police officer.

1. Photo copy everything you keep in your wallet – front and back.

2. Don’t carry anything in your wallet you are not going to use that day. If your wallet or purse does get stollen, you know exactly what you have lost. There is no sense in keeping every credit and debit card you own in your wallet 24/7; keep the ones you are not going to use secure at home or in your hotel room.

3. There are no safe neighboorhoods in the world anymore.

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Kari February 21, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Debit cards do indeed most often provide the same protection as credit cards; in today’s world they have to. But, if you’re looking for a way to feel secure that your bank account or credit won’t be affected when your wallet is lost or stolen, get a reloadable prepaid debit card like the UPside Visa card. This way, you can load funds from you checking account or credit card and if it gets lost or stolen, your entire world won’t collapse. As well, it provides Visa’s Zero Liability Policy, so even if it does get stolen, you’re not at risk.

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Diana February 21, 2008 at 9:58 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this news. I hope everything will be just okay. My wallet was also stolen few years ago. When I realized it I directly called to the banks to block my credit and debit card. Thanks God no transaction happened that moment. So, I just lost some cash in my wallet. I guess the thief was not clever enough for cheating the banks technology.

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Rick February 24, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Most of the credit card companies are very good about fraud protection. Debit Cards for the most part are the same way. One of the reason I don’t carry no where near the cash I use to.

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Funny about Money February 27, 2008 at 12:51 am

Nightmarish! It’s one of those horror shows we all hope won’t happen to us! I am sorry to hear you had to go through this.

Hey, Steven: don’t leave ANYTHING of value in a hotel room! Dear friends left the wife’s purse stashed in a drawer in one of the nicest hotels in San Diego, only to return after an afternoon at the beach to find it gone. Since they had brought cash, not cards or traveler’s checks, it was a very costly vacation for them. Use the hotel’s safe or take the goodies with you when you go out.

Amazing to hear you got some protection on debit cards–I’ve always heard the case was exactly the opposite. That’s why I don’t use them. I carry two credit cards and only two in my purse, and like Steven keep photocopies front and back of everything in the wallet, including healthcare card.

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The Happy Rock March 1, 2008 at 12:07 pm

@ Funny – That is the misconception about debit cards, they are still backed by Visa and Mastercard.

Maybe the photocopying would be a good idea, we will see if we miss anything that my wife lost.

@Steven – Thanks for the advice

@Diane – I guess you can relate, it is not fun!

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Pete May 28, 2008 at 7:58 am

This happened to my wife and I a few years ago, the process was quiet straight forward. We received our monthly bill and noticed many irregular payments. We contacted the bank explained the situation. Turned out our new cards had been stolen in transit. Within a week all the money was refunded, I guess all major banks have their own insurance policies for this kind of thing.

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Timothy June 11, 2008 at 11:01 pm

My wife and I were just in a large city. My spouses wallet was snatched out of her purse. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this for over an hour. By the time we discovered this, they were buying large purchases with our credit cards and debit cards. Well over $5000.00 in nearly 1 hour.

Good news, we will only pay $50 from a few of the cards per federal law on fraudalent charges. We have learned a few things, don’t sign the back of the card; you will then have to show ID. Also, limit your amounts especially on bank sponsored debit/credit cards; here, they unload >$3000 directly out of our checking account. We obviosly have drastically decreased the amount allowed to be used with our bank’s credit/debit.

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Natururlaub November 30, 2008 at 1:19 am

I can’t afford to lose any debit or credit card. Good thing my debit card is only prepaid.

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