PoPville PSA: Heads Up if You’re Expecting a New Credit/Debit Card in the Mail

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

Dear PoPville,

So, I just got a call from a police officer in Arlington saying they had my stolen debit card. This was news to me, because I had my card in my wallet. Long story short, my Wachovia card has just expired and Wells Fargo (which bought Wachovia) had sent me a new one. Except, I never got it.

According to the officer, the individual arrested had several debit cards on her, several from the Eckington Area, specifically T Street. So the thinking is that maybe she was plucking them out of the mail from our block. If someone is expecting a new card and you haven’t received it, it may have gotten caught up in this.

The officer on the case seemed diligent, but given that it is across state lines it may take a while to get the word out, so I just wanted to give people a heads up.

13 Comment

  • Allison

    Props to the cops! Also, you should consider whether any of your other mail might have been taken and investigate accordingly.

    Relatedly, sometimes fraud can happen when you receive pre-approved credit cards. Here are instructions for how to opt out though the FTC: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thecheckout/2006/02/opting_out_of_unsolicited_cred.html

  • Last wee, my GF mentioned she had seen a man in the alley behind our house, wearing decent clothes but going through people’s trash. When he saw her, he got in his (decent) car and drove away. From her description, it sure sounded like an identity thief. Most street hoods don’t bother with mail fraud. If you see anyone engaged in any suspicious activity like this, please get photos/license plate numbers and report them. I have long suspected that there are pros at work in DC.

    • and invest in a shredder! i shred everything from those ‘you’ve been pre-approved’ notices to ‘let’s refinance your house’ offers.

      thanks to the op for letting everyone know. i live near the area, so i will be on alert!

      • We bought a shredder shortly after we moved in, and shred all that stuff now. I certainly recommend one to anyone who lives in DC.

    • Well, there’s nothing illegal about going through someone’s trash and taking items once it’s placed in public space (i.e.: the alley). So, you can call the police, but they would have no authority to stop or detain someone doing it.

      Invest in a shredder.

  • Already get my packages shipped to my parent’s house in Maryland, guess I should start getting all of my mail shipped there as well!

  • I put raw chicken in every bag of trash. That’ll learn them!

  • Especially important given the massive data breach that resulted in millions of people getting new cards last month.


  • Don’t debit cards have to be activated before they can be used?

    • Allison

      Yeah but if you have a bunch of someone else’s mail, or even trash, it doesn’t take that much guessing to get the questions right. Some banks don’t even require a SSN to activate, only a telephone number.

    • Yes, there are a number of securty questions needed before a card is activated. A thief wouldn’t have this information from other pieces of mail. If the caller isn’t calling from the phone number they have listed on the account then there’s a series of questions to be answered before activation.

      Based on the OP, I suspect the thief wasn’t actual able to use her card. She likely stole the mail and may have attemped to activate it.

      • This won’t necessary stop the use of the card. I had this happen a few months back and it seemed like the user was able to make purchases on a non-activated card. These purchases were in Boston and then Spain. I was not responsible for any of it.

  • A PO box and an identify theft service make me feel fairly safe. It’s not too expensive for either one.

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