By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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).
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?