Monday, August 31, 2015

Never Let 'Em See Your Card

Earlier this month, I wrote about my credit card being stolen. The thief charged $500 twice at a series of fast food restaurants, totaling more than $5,500. Here were a few of the charges:



Everyone was so supportive in the comments, but it seems that a few people didn't realize when your credit card is stolen, the bank covers it. As much a pain in the butt getting your card stolen is, it isn't nearly as painful as actually being forced to pay for $5,500 worth of someone else's Big Macs.



When your card is stolen, you hope for a warning call from your bank. Some banks just cancel the card and let you learn from your cashier when you try to pay for groceries.



Then the real work begins. You have to go to the bank and dispute every charge on a computer screen. You could have printed it out and handed it over, but usually they conveniently wipe out your online statement as if you never had a credit card at all.



If the stolen card was a credit card, the bank has 30 days to "provisionally" take it off of your credit card. They can still investigate after that, but it becomes permanent if they haven't found after 90 days that YOU were the one who bought all those Big Macs.



Having a $5,500 balance on your credit card sucks, but it isn't the end of the world. However, as the bank employee pointed out, if it's debit, $5,500 is gone from your bank account for a full ten days. That's the amount of time they have to put the money back "provisionally" if your debit card is stolen.



Fortunately, we've always followed fraud experts' advice to use our credit cards for all our purchases and pay the balance off every payday. But I'm now afraid to shop online, since I'm pretty sure it was stolen from Shutterfly as part of a widespread security breach. (And neither I nor the fraud investigators know why anyone would want $1,000 worth of McDonald's food!)



Have you ever had a credit card stolen?

70 comments:

  1. No, but I've had to get a new number when Target had their credit cards hacked a while back. Such a pain.

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    1. Yep! If I don't randomly get a new card every couple of years because "a large group of cards may have been compromised," I wonder what's going wrong! It's a PAIN to update your card everywhere. All my bills are set up to auto-pay so on a monthly basis, it runs smoothly but when something like this happens, it becomes a nightmare.

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  2. I've not had my cards stolen but I know people who have. I have to deal with the banks often when traveling to see my family in Canada, and they get the same problem traveling here. If you don't tell your credit card company you're traveling to a different country, they'll catch it coming from a different country and immediately cancel your card. Sometimes they still do it even if you tell them!

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    1. They shouldn't cancel your card...that's crazy! I think I did call my credit card co. to alert them when I went to England, though. I guess that makes sense.

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    2. I worked in a shop where we dealt with a lot of cross-border customers and this happened all the time. It got to the point where if I suspected someone was American I would ask them before cashing them out: "Have you called your bank yet and told them you are in another country? Call them RIGHT NOW."

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  3. What strange charges! The writer in me can't help wondering why... and what if....

    It also reminds me of that old Friends episode where the woman who stole Monica's credit card was doing all these fun things, all the things Monica wanted to be doing, and then Monica ends up meeting her.... Funny episode! :)

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    1. The fraud investigator called last week and he can't figure it out, either--which is disturbing. I told him it has to be an inside job because I'm told McDonald's doesn't have $500 gift card and any purchase over a certain amount has to be approved by a manager. To run it through twice at each place? I wondered if it was somehow software-related--but all of it happened around the same part of Alabama.

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  4. Somehow my husband and I have escaped this particular nightmare. Knock on wood. That's a LOT of fast food, they must have fed the entire gang those days.

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    1. For it to be $500 even, twice at each restaurant, I'm guessing it was an inside job or gift cards. But I've yet to see a fast food restaurant that sells $500 gift cards...maybe they had the kind of cards where you could choose your amount?

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  5. My moms Amex card was stolen years ago. The theives went on a trip to Vegas on the card!

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    1. I had mine stolen in Gatlinburg a few years ago and it ended up in California. Someone was having fun! I learned then that most of the time, someone steals the number and sells it on the black market, where it is then used to make cards. I have no idea how it gets from the people who make cards to the people who actually use them... The ones using them are taking the big risk, since that's the person who will be caught and arrested most of the time.

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  6. I've had my card stopped, thinking it was stollen a few times. Apparently they can't understand why I'd shop at Victoria's Secret (true story). But otherwise I've been lucky--knock on wood for sure!

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    1. That's hilarious! I'm glad they are proactive about it, though. I'm trying to figure out why VSecret would be a target for people to use stolen credit cards? From my experience, they generally take them to gas stations and grocery stores.

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  7. How do you charge $500 at McDonalds? Someone was complicit in that, but I'll bet no one ever investigated that restaurant. They really need to attempt to track these thieves down and prosecute them.

    So far my bank has been good about challenging unusual charges. In one case they stopped a thief, in several cases the charges were mine and real...I was still happy to be challenged.

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    1. They charged $500 twice at four or five different fast food restaurants. The fraud investigator is apparently pulling receipts. I wonder if they'll pull surveillance video? That'd be interesting to see! The bad thing is, I'll never get to hear what they found out from all of it.

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  8. Yep, $4000 bucks of google adwords charged to mine. Pain in the arse to go through it and get a new one, but wasn't a huge deal. The banks can usually tell it wasn't you. I use paypal whenever I shop online where I can, less my credit card number is out there the better

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    1. Okay...so a thief stole your card # and charged Google AdWords? That's a BUSINESS thing. Crazy! And like that couldn't be easily traced!

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  9. It is a pain at the bank for sure. I once had charges in Vancouver but I was not there thankfully so everything got done quite quickly. My friend left his slip at the gas station-he had a $12,000 charge for 1st class flight to Germany on his. It also got rectified quickly but it is scary. the top 2 places to have anything stolen regrading bank card are gas stations, grocery stores, walmart and drug stores. I have ordered very, very little off of the internet and think I will finally invest in a reloadable card to use that for on line stuff.

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    1. Yeah, the investigator called and started asking me questions about why I use my card in so many places. He started naming off businesses...they were all online. I explained we'd just bought a house. I thought that was odd, though! He then noted that all the charges were in Alabama and I live in Tennessee. I assured him that I haven't spent $500 at McDonald's in my entire life. I don't even know if my total purchases there would total $100 over my lifetime. I'm not a fast food fan, really. I'd rather just eat something at home than eat most of that junk.

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  10. I don't get how exactly $500 even is being spent at a fast food place?

    We've had our credit card number stolen three times. The last time I figured out it was a Boost mobile employee and I reported them.

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    1. Ugh! I shouldn't say Shutterfly since I don't know for certain, but I told the investigator that's the last place I used it...AND the company that processes credit cards for Shutterfly, CVS, Sam's, and a bunch of other photo places had a breach. You still can't order photos on most of the affected sites, but Shutterfly doesn't seem at all concerned about it. I canceled my account and told them to remove my card from all their servers (even though the card is dead now) because I think it was stolen. I was just given the, "We encrypt all data" excuse. I think it's notable that CVS shut its online photo service down until they can be sure it's safe but Shutterfly is still collecting credit card numbers...

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  11. What a nightmare for you! Now I'm leery about online purchases when I had no problems before. I know when Home Depot was going through their problems with hackers, hubby got a new card from bank since his old debit card might have been compromised. Our banker here told us to use credit cards for purchases instead of debit cards; easier to dispute if a problem and then the hackers/thieves don't have access to your money from your account. Maybe we should all go back to just using cash!

    betty

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    1. True...but then you have to worry about getting mugged! They've come up with EMV to make your in-store transactions safer. But that will just drive criminals to the Internet, where they'll try to hack into servers to get #s.

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  12. I'm so sorry, Stephanie, that just plain sucks. But how did this loser manager to drop all that dough in McDonald's??!

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    1. It has the fraud investigator stumped! I said it had to be an inside job...a ring of fast food workers who got the card on the black market and worked together, maybe? Or is it possible they were able to hack into McDonald's stores and skim money somehow? It has to be something like that because I can't imagine a manager approving two charges of $500 in multiple fast food restaurants on the same day.

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  13. I've had mine stolen and I suspected the breach was at my former cell phone provider's end. It was used to purchase over 50 high end cell phones (like $700 each?). The actual card never left me; they got the numbers.

    One I had my card refused at a restaurant and I could have died.

    A friend wanted to shop and in the course of trip, I realized she really needed to talk. I suggested we go to lunch; of course, I just had some department store gift cards I'd been hanging on to, $10 and my credit card. Just enough to put in my pocket.

    So, we went to a nice restaurant and I insisted in buying her lunch and letting her vent. When I gave my card to them, they came back and said it was refused...three times. My friend pulled out her debit card and paid for it and I insisted on going to the bank and giving her the cash, but I was absolutely embarrassed and LIVID.

    When I called, I found out that they thought the fact that I used a card at a restaurant was way out of my norm. Turns out, my pattern was to only use a credit card at Christmas and at the beach (where we vacationed) and their "system" quickly questioned the transaction. The waitress should have given me the message that came back three times: call us.

    Since then, we have things automatically paid via our credit card and do the same as you.

    But hey - I had never heard of them denying unusual transactions for $24 dollars, at that time....I may still be mad, ha ha.

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    1. Once...not one. Can't proof...I rest my case.

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    2. I think that's a little TOO much profiling. But credit card companies are now going to start using data analytics to safeguard transactions. So if you suddenly start spending in Hawaii, for instance, the system will be able to cross-check and see that you bought an airline ticket on that card a few months earlier and verify it. It's all getting VERY sophisticated!

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    3. Years ago I bought a pair of black velvet pants that were on sale. The German salesperson, who could have been in a Mel Brooks movie, ran my card and shouted, IT ISSSS DECLINED. I was in one of the nicest shops in town, and wanted to crawl in a hole in the ground. I wrote a check, although I told the woman my card couldn't be declined. She insisted repeatedly that it was, without trying the card again. I called the credit card company when I got home. The customer service rep said the salesperson put in the wrong code for their store. Nothing wrong with my card. I called to complain about how she had embarrassed me. The owner said, Believe me, I've heard it before.

      I didn't realize that the salesperson co-owned the store, so the woman I thought was the owner couldn't do much about the Mel Brooks actress. She ended up calling me and saying, I'mmmm supposssed to apologize to you, but I don't know vy.

      I never went there again. If someone declined my card now, I would call the credit card company immediately. No one declines the Junebug.

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  14. Very sorry for the hassle....I truly understand!! Permit me to rant. It's happened twice on our credit cards...and our credit union took the charges off. The third most recent time was the scariest because it was on our DEBIT card, the one with direct access to our checking! There were charges in Italy and a Walmart in Texas. A large number in our town had their debit cards stolen as well and made front page news. Our credit union required we file a police report.....they said most banks do not require this. I felt well cared for but unnerved that someone could access our main accounts! I thought having a password would prevent that. I'm very careful today where I use my Debit card....I only use it locally for food. At least on a Credit Card you can see the charges on your bill. I'm bad about balancing our checking (we write few checks; we use Auto pay & Bill pay) and it can be months before I catch up. I now check charges regularly. Another thing we use is PayPal. You never give out your card number online when purchasing. Charges can go on a card or checking acct. My only complaint with PayPal is the lack of detail when charges post (you have to keep track).

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    1. p.s. Our DEBIT card accounts and passwords were stolen, not the actual card!

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    2. Ugh! What a hassle. It's happened to me three times over the past 15 years. They asked if I filed a police report but since all of it was out of state, the bank told me it wouldn't really help. Especially since I have no way to prove exactly where the card was stolen.

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  15. It still blows my mind that your card was used for fast food. What an idiot! I'm sorry for all the hassle you've had to deal with. This hasn't happened to me, but I can imagine what a pain it is!

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    1. And the day after they canceled it, the woman at the credit card co. said they'd been trying to use it all morning and had been blocked several times. I don't know why they weren't arrested at that point. She said these looked like normal purchases--gas and a legit. purchase at a McDonald's for $16.18 or something like that. All I could say is, "This thief LOVES fast food!"

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  16. I am so sorry this happened to you. That is definitely awful. I hope that all goes well and that you don't have to pay off the charges the thieves rang up. Hoping things get better soon.

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    1. It seems to be clear that it wasn't my fault! The fraud investigator can't even figure out how a criminal would have gotten away with such crazy charges.

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  17. I've never had one stolen, but I've lost one. Man can that mess up your life. It certainly diverts a lot of time away from what we need to do, like write-read-review-eat-sleep.

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    1. I LOVE Discover's new app that lets you freeze your card if you lose it. What a great idea. All cards should have that. I also thought Bank of America's ShopSafe numbers were a good idea--you just went and got a temp credit card # to use for purchasing online. But apparently somehow that whole program ended up being tampered with and they eventually stopped doing it.

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  18. I've lost mine once and had to call the bank the same day to cancel it and make me a new one.. which I had to pay for of course. They once sent me a legal warning saying I was in a minus for about three times the sum of money I've ever had on the account and they stopped my card and account without me knowing it. I could've gone to a trip or something thinking I had money on my card.... it turned out later on that the cash machine made a mistake in its system. They never apologized nor gave me some money as settlement

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    1. They make you pay for a new card? At least my bank doesn't do that! I was complaining that it took a week to arrive and I had to rely on my debit card during a time when I didn't feel safe using it!

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  19. I had a debit card compromised, but it was quickly cancelled and I got the money back. I wonder if a MacDonald employee might be behind some of this... And why $500? That's weird. Glad you are getting it worked out.

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    1. I'm guessing it had to be an inside job. No way would a McDonald's employee authorize two $500 purchases at once...and then at other fast food restaurants, too? It just doesn't make sense!

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  20. I blame the Hamburglar

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    1. You may not be too far off...he may have corrupted a few young minds!

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  21. I have been lucky. And on the one time that a 'suspicious' charge showed up, my bank rang me to ask.

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    1. They called me, too...but apparently these charges came through in a short time period...so the person was able to charge $1,000 at five separate restaurants in a brief enough time that it wasn't caught...

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  22. i've had it happen several times but bank of am has always been good to me and credited it back w/o issue. it's still a p.i.t.a. to get everything switched to a new #

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    1. Regions was really good...just took a while. About two weeks? I called and they said it was taking a while to gather all the receipts and get the investigation started...I think my case was especially perplexing!

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  23. Thankfully, that's never happened to me. I am always nervous when I use my credit card on line. Hope it all works out for you soon.

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    1. Unfortunately, it can happen in store, too (Target, Home Depot). Often the servers are what they attack...however, you are more at risk online just because you're often dealing with smaller operations that don't have their server act together. I thought Shutterfly was a larger operation...but apparently the problem is with the credit card processing service they use.

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  24. Who spends that kind of money on fast food? The fraud department at my credit union called me once and asked if I'd charged two small amounts at travel agencies. No, I hadn't. They canceled my card immediately and sent me a new one. Apparently it's common when someone gets an account number to spend small amounts, probably with the cooperation of the vendor, to see it it's noticed before stealing a large amount of money. I was impressed that my credit union caught it so quickly.

    Love,
    Janie

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  25. Good grief, were they treating everyone they know to food? Weird.

    We have BofA cards and they are excellent at shutting them down if anything is weird. So we've been lucky so far.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  26. Wouldn't the MacDonald restaurants pick up on this fraud. It's just crazy. No fast food place make money that fast. I just don't get it but I know it did happened to you.
    Hugs,
    JB

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  27. Glad you're getting this all sorted. What a nightmare. I haven't had this issue luckily. But with all the breaches lately...

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  28. How horrible. I'm sorry this happened to you. I've had people tell me about these things and it's such a hassle and inconvenience.

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  29. My in-laws have their card stolen all the time. Stereo equipment, meals at fancy restaurants, there's always weird stuff showing up on their cards. Once there was $7000 worth of gasoline on a single purchase.

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  30. Man, what a HUGE headache for you to even have to deal with this mess! I believe that someone decided to buy food for kids in a neighborhood , but that's no way to go about doing something good for someone else. They STOLE from you which is the bottom line and theft is never right. Glad you were able to get it resolved. What a nightmare!!!!! Hugs...

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  31. Don't be afraid to shop online. It could happen anywhere. The Target breach happened with in-store credit and debit card use. So if you're afraid of it, use cash everywhere. It's the only option. But don't use the ATM to get that cash because those get compromised, too.

    Sorry you had to deal with that hassle!

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  32. Back in October of 2014 I had a new debit card issued to me because of the Home Deport/Target (not sure which one) breach. Then January 2015 I decide to use a non bank ATM at a CVS store. About a week later I get a call from VISA about unusual activity on my account. I called back and someone had tried to take out $500 from my account. Funny think is -- I only had about $12.00 in there until pay day. But somehow they managed to take out $300 and then $200 but had tried to take out more before being declined. Of course I called my bank and had the card cancelled. I had to file a report and had to dispute the charges. I had to file a police report and submit that to the bank. At first the guy on the phone had asked me if anyone in my family had access to my debit card and the only person besides myself was my son. He asked if my son had taken the card and he hadn't since I was holding the debit card in my hand and I work about 28 miles from home. EVENTUALLY I was credited the amounts take out but it took almost 2.5 weeks.

    The only place I could have gotten my card skimmed was at the non bank ATM at the CVS store. From now on, I am using my bank's atm machines.

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  33. Yikes! Obviously these thief's have friends working at Micky D's and other places who allow them to draw cash instead of Big Macs. What a headache. My bank does send me a text if unusual activity is noted. Then I have to text them back that, yes, I did make a ten dollar purchase in Cut N Shoot on Tuesday. :)

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  34. This is probably the most bizarre thing I've heard in a while! I mean of all things to purchase??? I'm so sorry this happened to you, but at least your cc company had your back. Crazy!

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  35. That's really awful. Glad that you ere able to get things back in order though.

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  36. Oh man, I'm sorry! This hasn't happened to me yet *knocks on wood.* Well, maybe someone tried to. We got a call from our bank about a suspicious $7.99 charge. We didn't make it, so the card was promptly canceled.

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  37. No, but I've had mine be replaced several times because stores have security breaches. I think that happened three times last year. Crazy. I hope everything is fixed now for you.

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  38. Hi Stephanie, thanks for sharing with your readers that the charges made on a stolen credit card are covered. It is still traumatic, as I always wonder what other information they can have on a person. Take care of yourself, and I am sorry this happened to you. It hasn't happened to me...yet, thank God, but a friend of mine had someone use her debit card and withdrew most of the money in her account by 'remotely' finding out her PIN number. :( There are some mean people out there and we must always watch out. Thankfully, though, and being the optimist I am (in a realist sense, though, not in a dreamy sense, if you get my drift), there are also good people out there. I often hear of people finding large amounts of money, wallets, purses, etc., and returning them. One time I was on the bus a few months ago (I take public transit). The seat that I chose to sit on had a purse on it. Since nobody was with the purse I took it immediately to the bus driver and told him I found it. He thanked me profusely, stopped his bus just for a moment so that he could call the bus company to see if someone had reported a lost/missing purse. Sure enough someone had. I didn't get any monetary reward for it but I don't mind, because it just felt good to do the right thing.

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  39. I've had my debit card number stolen and used while the card was still in my possession. But my credit union covered it right away, put the money immediately back into my account pending the investigation, and then sent me a letter later to inform me that I was not responsible for the charges.

    Credit unions FTW!

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  40. What a pain in the hinnie.

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  41. Never had one stolen per say, but did leave a gas card behind that someone used to buy lottery tickets. Police couldn't do anything because only $45 was charged on it. Apparently the threshold for sixth degree larceny was $50. Got the charges removed, but it gave me a low opinion of the local police department that 25 years later has not changed.

    Father Nature's Corner

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  42. Scary thing is they don't need your card anymore, they can just steal your number! I've had that happen once. Fortunately, my bank called me because I'd made a purchase in Tallahassee and then I supposedly made a purchase somewhere up North on the same morning. haha

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  43. It really surprises me that a fast food restaurant would allow anyone to charge $500 worth of food! I know it is a hassle for you -- glad it is almost over. My worst banking experience was a few years ago when the bank cleared someone else's mortgage payment from my account. I could see the check on line -- it wasn't mine! That took almost a week and no apology for Chase to correct.

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