After working for months in the credit card industry one of the most common reasons for people having to go through automated telephone systems and speaking to foreign based call centres is because of lost or stolen credit cards, criminals these days are more than your average smash and grab hoodlums running down the street with a swag bag, credit card fraud has become something of an illegal art of which the complexities can be most intricate. From one credit card, these criminals can steal your identity, taking out more credit cards, loans, forge bank statements and even apply for identification. Its was estimated in 2006, 428 million was lost due to fraud in the UK alone, its is partly due to these startling figures that have turned our nation ever more paranoid.
For many people it can be a simple case of leaving the card down the back of a chair, however having the ‘it will turn up eventually attitude’ may only lead to countless problems in the near future. In one instance, I received a call from a lady stating that her card been used fraudulently in her home town, phone credit, computer consoles and games had all been paid using her card, after investigation the report came back that it was her 14 year old son, who had stumbled on the credit card while looking for clothes downstairs. Unfortunately, the purchases that were made still have to be paid for by the card owner.
There are many ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of owning a credit card, one of which is do not write the pin on the card, in the case your card is stolen you’ve made the criminals job much easier. You can keep the pin, but only in a place such as the safe. Information regarding your account should be shredded and kept out of view at any strangers. Its of utmost importance that people realise that criminals do not need the card its self to commit crime, they only need the information, not having the card only slows the process down, criminals can buy blanks and an embossing machine and simply duplicate your card, which is ready for immediate use.
There are only a few pro active solutions to losing or having a credit card stolen and that’s report it firstly to the credit card supplier, they put a block on the card and re issue a new one within 5 working days, they will also run through recent transactions to make sure the card has not been used. Secondly inform the authorities, there are two reasons for this one, is if it has been handed in you know who it was handed in by and the information is relatively safe, and secondly, it may help break any organised crime in the area.
What people must realise is that this is not your money, its the banks money that they’ve lent you, so take good care of the card and the related information, if you believe anyone has got or had access to your information report it immediately, only those who have experienced the grief of card theft can understand the long road to rectifying the situation.