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I got the dreaded "Did you use your credit card at store X?" from Amex just the other day. This is the second time our credit card information was stolen. The first time it was the PC Financial MasterCard but I wasn't too worried about it because we had used it at HomeSense and figured it was stolen through the Winners data breach. This time, I'm more worried because despite our precautions (shred/burn all receipts, statements etc.) another credit card has now been compromised. Not to mention, it is a hassle this time because most of our pre-authorized payments are through Amex.

So, I'm wondering how common credit card theft is. Has it happened to you? What, if anything, can you do to protect yourself?
 

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I have, when I lived in NYC. It was lifted from my pocket though, not taken by an enterprising restaurant employee or the like. The thief basically took it to the closest subway station and bought as many prepaid subway passes as s/he could until I reported it. Those passes are as good as cash, pretty smart! I guess all you can do is use it sparingly, check your bills constantly, and avoid any websites or stores asking for information in a shady manner.

I did have the experience recently, after a large post-bonus shopping spree, of my c.card (MBNA) being held. When I phoned in to get the hold taken off I just had to give them the number and my name, ie the info on the card itself - no check of my mother's maiden name, my address or anything else - which I found alarming.
 

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I got the dreaded "Did you use your credit card at store X?" from Amex just the other day. This is the second time our credit card information was stolen. The first time it was the PC Financial MasterCard but I wasn't too worried about it because we had used it at HomeSense and figured it was stolen through the Winners data breach. This time, I'm more worried because despite our precautions (shred/burn all receipts, statements etc.) another credit card has now been compromised. Not to mention, it is a hassle this time because most of our pre-authorized payments are through Amex.

So, I'm wondering how common credit card theft is. Has it happened to you? What, if anything, can you do to protect yourself?
I believe that my wife had one of her credit card info stolen. Nothing happened, but now they gave her a new credit card with a PIN number.

I've had money taken directly out of my chequing account. The bank called me and told me to go into a local branch and seek the manager. No other info. So I went in and they told me; and reversed it. I'm glad that the financial companies call you because, honestly, I wouldn't have noticed it.
 

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I was studying at University of Toronto Law library. I left my wallet in my jacket hung over the chair. The thieve stole my wallet probably when I was studying or when I took a washroom break.

When I got home 2 hours later I found that almost $1200 was already spent on my credit cards. Gas purchase, shoe purchase, and other purchase at Eaton Center. I have RBC Visa Infinite and PC Mastercard.

I reported it to my credit cards company and got everything back. I needed to provide them a police report number. The police came over to my house and collected the information for the incidence. That's the great thing about CC. It's zero liability against theft.

Total lost: about $40 in cash and new government ids (health cards and driver license.)

Surprisingly my Visa Infinite black card was courier overnight and I got a new card the next day.
 

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I've never had a card physically stolen, but a couple months ago I found a charge on my bill that wasn't supposed to be there. It was for about $50ish and it was to a software development company in Paris. I disputed the charge, and it was reversed immediately and without problem. The credit card company gave me a new number for the card as a precaution.
 

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I've never had a CC stolen but then again I've only ever looked for large expenditures. If they've made small purchases like the one MTNG mentioned I'm sure I would have missed it
 

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My wife is pretty vigilant about checking all our statements with a fine tooth comb.

We've experienced about 3-4 'cards stolen' events.

Two high profile cases (the TJMax/Winners), and more recently another in the US (where because we had used our card in the past year in the US we were exposed to risk) - and once had a $5000 charge at Harvard University - (we aren't Ivy league educated ;))

Its happened quite often come to think about it, but we've never had to pay a cent, although its starting to get quite annoying.
 

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I had a credit card stolen once. I left my jacket unattended for a few minutes while having lunch in a restaurant, and poof! The thief was smart, he took one credit card then left the wallet. Had the wallet been missing, I would have reported the card stolen immediately. Since the wallet was there, and only one card missing; I thought I must have left it at my office or something. Anyway, the thief got an opportunity to go shopping. I got a call, asking me if I was using my card at that moment, or if I had authorized any person to use it buying jewellery in that moment or a laptop at Office Depot 30 minutes earlier. I said no, they didn't honor the transaction and the thief left the store without the jewellery (but still had the $2,000 laptop).

I had some hassles and paperwork, but wasn't out a dime in the end. Not directly at least. Of course, the crook was never caught. The billions of dollars of losses from fraud, theft, and whatnot are part of the 3-5% credit card merchant fee that is baked into the price of everything I buy, regardless of whether I use a credit card or not.

The thieving is very inefficient as well. When an investigating police officer followed up on my report (six months later) he told me the thief probably sold the laptop in a bar, back alley or pawnshop the same day for $500.
 

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After 30 minutes on a stairmaster at the local YMCA I returned to my locker to find it open and my credit card missing. Called MC immediately at learned that $4000 had already been charged at Best Buy.

Jumped through the hoops, reported it to the police, equifax, trans union, ect and the charges came off my account.

A week later I discovered that the key to my supermail box had been removed from my key ring. Now they can pick up any new credit cards they get approved in my name, how nice. Canada Post changed the locks for free and there were no further issues.

I never did find the combination lock so I don't know if it was cut off or if by chance I didn't lock it properly.

The new "chipped" cards should fix this. :)
 

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Shayne, the new *chipped* cards are by no means foolproof. Stores or locations that do not have the proper card reader can continue to swipe your card and you can provide your autograph, as usual.

What I would like to see is a credit card with your picture on it, a sort of driver's license/credit card hybrid, if you will. Again it is by no means foolproof because people will age and change appearances but it is another deterring measure in place against an ever growing identity theft issue.
 

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Shayne, the new *chipped* cards are by no means foolproof. Stores or locations that do not have the proper card reader can continue to swipe your card and you can provide your autograph, as usual.

What I would like to see is a credit card with your picture on it, a sort of driver's license/credit card hybrid, if you will. Again it is by no means foolproof because people will age and change appearances but it is another deterring measure in place against an ever growing identity theft issue.
Very good point. I think if I were the CC company I would insist that the retailers upgraded their readers.
 

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The new "chipped" cards should fix this. :)
I'm not a fan of the CHIPPED Visa card. Nothing is more annoying than having to follow the waiter to the credit card machine. It looks like my credit card bounced or something.

Ever since the invention of CHIPPED Visa I switched to Mastercard to pay for all my restaurants bills.

It's a big contrast, Mastercard went the opposite route. Instead of CHIPPED they have PAY PASS where all we have to do is put the card in front of the sensor. I use it all the time at Tim Horton's to collect my CC points and it is quicker than having to take out change for coffee.
 

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dave, I have seen places with wireless card reader where the servers bring the reader to your table and you do what you need to do right there and then.

But those wireless readers have not been as widespread as they should be, cost is definitely a factor and security could be another.
 
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