I swim very early every day all year at a community outdoor pool in the desert area of Arizona. I’m there from about 6 to 7 am. There are no lockers, so I usually leave my valuables in my locked car in the parking lot. Unless I’m actually in the water, the car is within my sight just outside the gate.
However, I made the mistake one day about a year ago of putting my wallet on a table next to the pool under my shorts and t-shirt. There were only two or three other swimmers and a maintenance guy there that morning. When I finished swimming, my wallet was gone. Foolishly, I then guessed I had left it in a bag in the car as usual, and didn’t check. I drove home in just a few minutes, then rooted through my bag for find my wallet. It was gone, and as I soon discovered, forever.
I drove back to the pool and asked the guys if they had seen my wallet. None of them said he had. I don’t know who stole it, or if wasn’t stolen, where I may have dropped it out of my car driving home from the pool. I still don’t know what happened to the wallet.
Of course, all my cards … credit, driver’s license, insurance, Social Security, auto club and others … were lost. My first call, just minutes later, was to my auto club insurance rep. He gave me sound advice that applies to anyone who loses or has a credit card stolen.
Immediately call the emergency numbers of all the organizations where the card was issued. Make sure the credit card companies put an immediate cancellation on your cards. That can be done electronically in an instant. Then, as I had to do, start the bothersome process of getting new ones issued. To me, this was most troublesome, especially getting a new driver’s license and Social Security card. The offices are always busy and confusing, the clerks surly and it takes hours sitting in waiting rooms full of crying babies.
However, most horror stories about strangers running up big credit card purchases are not because the actual plastic cards are stolen. The crimes are set up by crooked hotel employees, waiters and department store clerks. They use impressions of the cards right after you’ve made your purchases, and because of billing delays, you often don’t find out about the rip-offs for months. Then, you have a lot of explaining to do to the card companies. If you’re lucky, it may not cost you anything.
There are some safeguards against those crimes that are making thievery less frequent. A card holder can set up a reminder system where the credit card company will refuse a large purchase until you can be notified. Another one is for the card holder to set a low monthly limit, such as $1,500, so that all purchases above that will require verification.
In my case, I guess I was lucky. I checked my statements for months after my wallet went missing. No illegal transactions were ever made on my cards. So, as my spouse always says, some day, in some dark corner of my house or car, that wallet will show up with all my old, and now unusable, credit cards.