Okay, names are not really pointless. However, when it comes to names on credit cards, they are absolutely useless. This past week, my husband needed to use one of my cards. I would not be with him when he used it as well. Can you guess what happened?
Nothing! My hope is that they would have questioned him using my card. Maybe because of this time and age, people are afraid to ask. People may be concerned about offending someone because the name on the card doesn’t match up with how this person may actually look.
Am I reading too much into this? I could be. It really could just be that people are unaware and unwilling to care. It could be that people don’t even look at cards anymore. It could be that cashiers aren’t given enough training how to watch for identity theft. Back in the day, when I was a cashier, our videos reminded us to watch for signatures and even ask for ID when handed a card.
What ever the reasoning behind why the person who took the card out of my husband’s hand, swiped it through their card reader and handed it back to him, I am dumbfounded. The best part was when he had to sign, he just signed HIS NAME. Not the name on the card.
People wonder why identity theft is so easy. Well, this is why. My husband had my credit card, which was in my maiden name, and used it all over town. He didn’t use it at “non-person” check-outs. He used it with living, breathing human beings. We have lost a sense of community. A sense that we need to help the other guy out. I personally think it has to do a lot with the fear of offending someone because you asked an innocent (all-be-it ignorant) question. A question like, “May I see your ID please?” is no longer tolerable. We’ve now offended this person because we don’t “believe” the card is his or hers. We have offended everyone in line behind them because we are taking an extra 60 seconds to verify this person is using their card.
Identity thieves rely on cashiers and money handlers being too lazy or to worried about offending someone so they can just slip by unnoticed. They rely on card-holders not authorizing additional users. They rely on card-holders not checking their monthly statements. They rely on ignorance by all parties.
I was truly shocked that my husband went a whole week with my card and not a single person asked about the card name not matching his. It has taught me that people aren’t watching each other’s backs. They want their money and could care less about where the money comes from. I know these are not the actual intentional thoughts, but it just makes me nervous to use credit cards at all.
I don’t have any easy fix. The biggest thing is to know where your cards are at all times. If you can’t find one and can’t recall the last place you may have left it, most card companies can “freeze” an account until you notify them otherwise. It’s important to note that some companies do charge for this service, while most do not anymore. You can also make sure to minimize how many credit cards you keep on your person at any given time. Find a safe space at home where you can keep your extra cards that you are not currently using. This is great for those specific store cards. We have a few of those that sit at home until needed. This also forces us to be intentional about when we shop at these stores and not be so impulsive with our purchases.
Lastly, use a credit monitoring service. Yes, some do cost a little money, but it’s worth it. Also, do not ignore those monthly notices that hit your inbox. Take some investment into your financial identity and read the reports. Learn how to read them – they are confusing at first. If something seems off, contact the company for more information.
Staying on top of your credit and financial identity seems like some work, and it is. However, the amount of work spent trying to repair your stolen identity is 10-fold. Staying proactive is the best way to prevent this theft.