If your credit card has been stolen — regardless of whether it has been physically stolen or someone has stolen the card number while you still have the card in your possession — it is very unlikely the police are going to do anything to pursue the criminal. Even filing a police report will usually be a waste of your time and theirs, unless your credit card company absolutely demands it (which they won’t in almost every circumstance).Will Police Investigate Credit Card Theft?
Here’s why. Finding a credit card thief is extremely difficult, and the police won’t see the crime as harmful enough to be worth the effort. In addition, most credit card companies will shut down your credit card quickly if they believe there is fraud, long before enough can be spent with the card to make the crime truly impactful. As soon as the card-issuing bank sees purchase behavior that doesn’t seem to coincide with your regular purchases, they will either stop new purchases from being approved, or they will contact you to be sure the charges are legitimate. (And if they can’t reach you, they’re much more likely to decline new charges than to wait around for you to reply.)
Credit card theft is a cost of doing business for the credit card companies. They know a certain amount of theft will occur, so they put in as many safeguards as possible on their end to stop criminals before they can spend much. But the money they believe you and other cardholders will spend on the cards far outweighs the fraudulent purchases from theft — so they are willing to take the bad with the good. History has shown credit cards are extremely profitable for the banks, even after the costs of theft are factored in.
Also, under federal law, you can not be held responsible for more than $50 of fraudulent charges if your card is physically stolen, and none at all if the number is stolen while you still have the card (such as via the Internet). Most credit card issuers never pursue even that small amount from their cardholders — keeping you as a happy cardholder is more important (and more profitable) than trying to get 50 bucks from you for unauthorized charges. So, if you essentially have lost nothing from your card being stolen, why would the police spend any time investigating the theft?
When the Police will Investigate
The only reason police might investigate credit card theft is if there are multiple thefts in one area. This is usually due to a credit card theft network that is also a criminal enterprise. The police may not pursue the thieves even if that is the case. The FBI would be more likely to pursue the thieves, and they will likely investigate after receiving information from credit card companies about a pattern in thefts in a particular area.
The Banks May Make You File A Police report
The only reason you will need to file a report with the police about a credit card theft is when your credit card company doesn’t believe that your claim of theft. What would make them suspicious about your claim? They will most likely suspect you if your claim for theft was based on a large purchase or if you have claimed theft multiple times.
Credit card thieves use credit cards to steal as quickly as possible and often for very small amounts of money to avoid detection. They may buy gas or gift cards, or if they are very small-time criminals they will use your card to get a drink at a bar, then they will abandon the card. They don’t buy a new sofa, a bed, or a refrigerator. Your credit card issuer might request a police report if you claim credit card theft following the purchase of a large-ticket item. This will allow them to “on record” the theft and could put you in serious legal trouble if you lie. If you file a claim for credit card theft more than once in a short time, such as two to three times per year, your bank may request a police report. This will allow you to be “on the record.”
Identity Theft vs. Credit Card Theft Identity Theft
It is one thing to have your credit card stolen, but it is quite another to have your identity stolen. It is rare to file a police report if a single credit card has been stolen or used fraudulently. If someone is using your personal data to open new cards or make purchases that are being charged to you, you should definitely report it to the police. It is more difficult to find out the truth if someone misuses your personal information fraudulently if they wait. Police should be investigating as soon as possible. While you will still need to contact the credit-card company or companies involved, you’ll also want the police involved to prove that you are not the one making the fraudulent purchases.