Would you fall victim to this type of hit-and-run theft? It’s busy in the grocery store and you’re picking up a few vegetables. The customer standing next to you makes a comment. You answer. The next thing you know, the stranger—and your wallet—are gone and your credit card balance is growing like crazy.
The hit-and-run theft
I heard about this bit of trickery indirectly, but immediately saw how easy it would be to become a victim. Here’s a loose recounting of what happened in this real-life hit-and-run to a woman we’ll call Lucy.
The store was busy when Lucy was shopping at her favorite market. She was standing in front of the sweet potatoes when another woman walked up to her.
The stranger said, “I’d love to be able to have sweet potatoes, but I don’t know how to fix them.”
Lucy was happy to help the stranger out. They talked a bit about the various ways to cook sweet potatoes, but then Lucy felt uncomfortable. Not knowing why, she turned around and saw another woman standing near her. The second woman excused herself and walked off. At this point, so did the first stranger.
By now, Lucy was suspicious of the entire incident. She checked her cart. No wallet. She had several major credit cards and her drivers license in the purse. She called her husband, who came to the store and paid for her purchases.
Lucy returned home and immediately called her credit card companies. One of the companies told her the cards had already been used by the thieves.
How to protect yourself
This crime targets women because they’re the ones carrying a purse. Sure, a skilled pickpocket could grab a man’s wallet while he’s distracted, but a purse in a shopping cart is much easier to steal. This type of crime can’t really be prevented, but you can be prepared. Keep a record of your credit cards, their expiration dates, and the numbers to call in case you need to reach the company.
A picture of the front and back of the card can provide this information, but what happens when you travel? I’d suggest a good password manager.
With a password manager such as Dashlane or 1Password, you can make notes for each card. You can record all the necessary information and keep it password protected.
By the way, if you’re keeping track of credit cards, also make note of your security question answers. Just like passwords, there are too many questions for anyone to remember every single answer.