"tlwhyte aol com Tamara Whyte September 12 2002 Beat story 2 Credit card theft The phone rings and an unknown voice from a well known credit card company asks if the cardhold"
email@example.com Tamara Whyte September 12, 2002 Beat story 2 Credit card theft The phone rings and an unknown voice from a well known credit card company asks if the cardholder has done an unusually large amount of shopping this week, which she has not. Credit card theft is a crime that can easily go undetected, be both a bother and a pain and it is closer than one might think. Sarah R. Brown, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student, had her Visa card and Wachovia debit card stolen from her purse at a friend’s party, but she did not notice it at the time. It was over a week before the theft was reported to the Chapel Hill police. “I found out when Visa called my parents and questioned the amount of activity on the card,” said Brown. Someone spent $400 on her Visa card at Crabtree Valley mall and $1,417, all of her savings, at Streets at SouthPoint Mall and on groceries, said Brown. “During 2001 there were 263 incidents where credit cards were stolen, but that doesn’t mean they were all used,” said Jane Cousins, Chapel Hill police spokeswoman. “Often the wallet was stolen; they would take the money and throw the wallet and credit cards in the trash.” 1 firstname.lastname@example.org In addition, Cousins said that people using credit card numbers that aren’t theirs without taking the physical card is a “growing problem.” “If you lose your card or think it is stolen immediately notify the credit card company, and then call the police,” said Cousins. Recovering the money can be a complicated process in itself. All four of the major credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover Card) have similar policies regarding unauthorized purchases made on cards. While they maintain that the customer has zero liability, the theft must be reported in a timely manner and all claims are investigated. “Visa was very helpful, they blocked the card and called my parents about the activity on it,” said Brown. However, Brown said she had more trouble recovering her savings. “Wachovia hasn’t been very helpful,” said Brown. “I had to file all the police reports. They really have given me the run around, and they still haven’t done anything. Greg Lewis, a telephone service banker for Wachovia, said that when dealing with stolen cards the company investigates the transactions as thoroughly as possible. “We call merchants, pull and review tapes, monitor accounts very closely, if there is anything out of the ordinary they will block cards,” said Lewis. A teller for Bank of America, Matt Flynn, said their policy was similar, but it was important that cardholders not be negligent in their treatment of their card. “If they leave their pin number with the card it’s a crime that could have been prevented,” said Flynn. 2 email@example.com Bank of America has already started a program where they include the cardholder’s photograph on debit and atm cards, said Flynn. However, even the photos will not stop the theft of credit card numbers, the best solution is to be aware and always check balance statements, said Lewis. “This whole thing has been such a pain,” said Brown. 3 firstname.lastname@example.org Contacts: Sarah R. Brown, UNC-CH student Junior – 960 – 8127 Jan Cousins, Chapel Hill police spokeswoman – 968 – 2760 Greg Lewis, Telephone service banker Wachovia – 1- 800 – 922 – 4684 Matt Flynn, Teller Bank of America (the one on Franklin Street) – 918 – 4200 4