Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Access to Credit Card Information

I'm just returning from a trip having experienced a travelers nightmare. I was standing in the check out line of a busy store and realized that my credit card was gone. Immediately my mind raced through "when did I last use the card" and "where did I put it". I stood in that line and proceeded to thumb through my wallet fighting a sense of panic and dread. Fortunately I had enough cash to cover the transaction. So I proceded to my car to empty the wallet (twice) before I continued the routine of checking every pocket of my travel purse.....the card was gone.

I teach money management and have completed my lesson "What's in your wallet"....a lesson which approaches the topic of identity theft and the reality of how difficult it is to recreate what we have in our wallets and purses from memory. I had a list of my card numbers and the companies phone numbers in a file one thousand miles away, locked in a file cabinent that noone was going to be able to get into. EEgaad, so much for being prepared.

Fighting back the panic I decided to retrace my steps of the previous evening. I had a receipt from the last purchase I had made and couldn't imagine why I'd have a receipt and no credit card. Fortunatley, an honest waitress realized that I had left the card with the signed receipt and she had put the card in the managers office. I drove through rush hour traffic in a strange town to retrieve that card as quickly a possible. And thanked God for honest people all the way back to the restaurant.

The lesson learned which I offer to you today. It is a wonderful thing to keep back up records secure at home. But we need to think about the possiblity of being one thousand miles away and having noone at home to access the locked file.

I've come up with these thoughts to help in case this incident happens again.

a. Keep a small card with the telephone number(s) for the credit card companies in my wallet or purse. This would have made solving my situation easier in this incident but wouldn't help had my entire purse or wallet been lost.

b. Keep a list of credit card contact numbers readily filed in my desk at work.

There's probably other options available. The point is to think about what your options might me to protect yourself should your card be left behind or taken from you.

1 comment:

Juliet - Southeast Area Community Development Extension Educator said...

Thanks for the GREAT post. Until reading your post I really hadn't considered what would happen if my card/wallet/purse were stolen when traveling domestically. When I travel internationally I alway leave a copy of my card info and passport information behind with someone I can contact in an emergency. Now I realize I should do the same when traveling domestically as well.