no. 15 – what do you do when you lose your credit cards?

I’m a huge proponent of wearing chinos to work. They’re casual, come in a variety of colors and still come off looking somewhat professional for classroom teaching. At least that’s what I keep telling myself since I’m not wearing jeans to teach.

One of my colleagues is continually asking me what my thing is with dressing nautical…as if that’s been my intention all along. But apparently alternating stripped and solid teas with woven belted chino pants and canvas shoes makes me look like I’m about to board the USS Drab.

I suppose It’s what happens when you shop predominantly at The GAP–aka that dark chasm where fashion goes to die. The clothes are comfortable and overwhelmingly predictable year round. If you select the right pieces, you can match with literally everything you own. My purchases are so safe that everything in the bag typically matches with what I originally go into the store wearing.

Maybe it’s symptomatic of being a middle class American… not having time to worry about clothing choices. I mean, I certainly don’t have time to worry about these things. I prefer to minimize such decisions so I can go about my day fulfilling other creative desires…

…which is why this morning when I reached into the pocket of my washed fatigue colored chinos and felt the formation of a small hole, I couldn’t trouble myself to take them off and put another pair on.

In fact, as soon as I walked downstairs to the kitchen, I had already gone through the process of forgetting and remembering when I put my keys in my pocket and they appeared as a bulge somewhere on the middle of my thigh.

“Oh, great.” I thought to myself. 11 or so hours later I would be scrambling around campus looking in classrooms for my wallet…wondering where I must have left it or if a student stole it off the desk when I walked out the room.

My wallet is actually a very slim metal business card holder from the 80’s… or it was. It’s so small, it can only carry 3 cards, and as such, houses my drivers license, debit card and credit card.

As you can imagine, I did not make it home with the wallet. For at least an hour, I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened to it. However, it became abundantly clear when I walked through the gate into my courtyard. My phone suddenly slid down my leg and froze in place on my left shin.

It was then that I realized I would have to cancel all of my cards. I would not be waiting to see if the wallet turned up in my colleague’s car the next morning. I would not wait to see if I had accidentally slid the wallet under the computer keyboard as I was grading earlier that night. And I would not wait to see if I found the wallet in the grass or along the campus walking path.

The wallet could be anywhere… and though I presume it actually is on campus, I’d be foolish not to report the cards lost. Even if a student finds it, he will know all of my information now, including where I live.

What we are normally advised to do when we lose credit cards:

  • Look around a little more. It’s always possible the card has ended up in a place you don’t normally store it. I had begun to think I had the card sandwiched between textbooks and that I had shoveled it all into my bag before I left campus. I had hoped it would be there and planned to wait to report it until after I got home. And of course I did look through my bag, but I was pretty sure I knew what happened the second my iPhone had become part of my shin.
  • Freeze your accounts. A lot of companies give you the option to temporarily suspend your account. This means that in the morning when you come to your senses and remember where the card is, you will still have the card in your possession and can reactivate it. And this is nice because being without your card between 5-7 days might be a nightmare. I’m too paranoid for this line of thinking. I imagine someone could take a picture my ID and credit card numbers, so I just straight up cancelled them. Once someone has your credit card numbers and address, which were both in my wallet, they can make any number of purchases online. Not to mention there are too many students where I work who already consider themselves hackers.
  • Pay attention to your accounts. I hope you already do this, but it’s vital you do it in a situation like this. Careful monitoring and proper reporting can prevent someone from continually racking up charges on your account and ruining your credit.

Have you ever lost a credit card or dealt with compromised data? How did it happen, and what did you do?