A friend went to the local gym and placed his belongings in the locker. After the workout and a shower, he came out, saw the locker open and thought to himself, “Funny, I thought I locked the locker. Hmmmmm.” He dressed and just flipped the wallet to make sure all was in order. Everything looked okay – all cards were in place. A few weeks later his credit card bill came – a whooping bill of $14, 000! He called the credit card company and started yelling at them, saying that he did not make the transactions. Customer care personnel verified that there was no mistake in the system and asked if his card had been stolen. “No,” he said, but then took out his wallet, pulled out the credit card, and yep – you guessed it – a switch had been made. An expired similar credit card from the same bank was in the wallet. The thief broke into his locker at the gym and switched cards. Verdict: The credit card issuer said since he did not report the card missing earlier, he would have to pay the amount owed to them. How much did he have to pay for items he did not buy? $9,000! Why were there no calls made to verify the amount swiped? Small amounts rarely trigger a “warning bell” with some credit card companies. It just so happens that all the small amounts added up to a big one!
A man at a local restaurant paid for his meal with his credit card. The bill for the meal came, he signed it, and the waitress folded the receipt and passed the credit card along. Usually, he would just take it and place it in his wallet or pocket. Funny enough, though, he actually took a look at the card and, lo and behold, it was the expired card of another person. He called the waitress and she looked perplexed. She took it back, apologized, and hurried back to the counter under the watchful eye of the man. All the waitress did while walking to the counter was wave the wrong expired card to the counter cashier, and the counter cashier immediately looked down and took out the real card. No exchange of words – nothing! She took it and came back to the man with an apology.
Verdict: Make sure the credit cards in your wallet are yours. Check the name on the card every time you sign for something and/or the card is taken away for even a short period of time. Many people just take back the credit card without even looking at it, thinking that it has to be theirs. For your own sake, develop the habit of checking your credit card each time it is returned to you after a transaction!
Yesterday my friend Dan went into a pizza restaurant to pick up an order that he had called in. He paid by using his Visa Check Card which, of course, is linked directly to his checking account. The young man behind the counter took his card, swiped it, then laid it flat on the counter as he waited for the approval, which is pretty standard procedure. While he waited, he picked up his cell phone and started dialing. Dan noticed the phone because it is the same model as his, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then Dan heard a click that sounded the way his phone sounds when he takes a picture. The young man then gave Dan back his card but kept the phone in his hand as if he was still pressing buttons. Meanwhile, Dan was thinking: “I wonder what he is taking a picture of, oblivious to what was really going on.” It then dawned on him: the only thing there was his credit card, so now he’s paying close attention to what the young man is doing. The young man set his phone on the counter, leaving it open. About five seconds later, Dan heard the chime that tells you that the picture has been saved. Now Dan is standing there struggling with the fact that this boy just took a picture of his credit card. Yes, he played it off well, because had they not had the same kind of phone, Dan probably would never have known what happened. Needless to say, Dan immediately canceled that card as he was walking out of the pizza parlor.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Whenever you are using your credit cards, take caution and don’t be careless. Notice who is standing near you and what they are doing when you use your card. Be aware of phones because many have a camera phone these days. When you are in a restaurant and the waiter/waitress brings your card and receipt for you to sign, make sure you scratch the number off. Some restaurants are using only the last four digits, but a lot of them are still putting the whole thing on there. The truth is that they can get you even when you are careful, but don’t make it easy for them.