Does your credit or debit card look like this?
Can you immediately spot the card you need in your wallet or in a pile of “let’s split the check five ways” just by the color or pattern? If you’re like me, the answer is obviously yes. We use these pieces of plastic frequently enough that there’s no need to check the name or number on the card – we know what it looks like, it’s plainly ours.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but apparently there’s a scam artist in Chicago that’s banking on us to think that way (scam artist seems strong – sneaky dude? Mean man?). My friend was recently taken advantage of and the more people that hear her story, the less likely the guy will be able to strike again.
Here’s the deal: My friend paid for her cab with a credit card and passed her card to the front seat for her driver to swipe. He used one of these things:
And handed back a card and her receipt. At some point during this transaction, the driver pulled a switcheroo and handed back a card that looked EXACTLY THE SAME as hers but with someone else's name on it. My friend didn't even realize that anything had happened until she tried to pay for dinner at her destination and was both declined payment and accused of identity theft when the card she tendered was not her own.
While we were able to straighten everything out at the restaurant, it was too late for her bank account. The driver had already started his shopping spree and had racked up hundreds of dollars of expenses at J. Crew. We thought that the receipt would be the thief's downfall, but there was no information on it that identified the driver, cab number or cab company that could help to report him.
While this is likely just one person making a series of bad decisions, this story is a good reminder to take five seconds to check the name on our credit cards any time they leave our sight. From cabs to restaurants, retail stores to grocery stores, a quick check can mean the difference between a new shirt for you or a new wardrobe for him.