by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Action 9's Jason Stoogenke noticed a lot of people filing police reports saying someone stole their credit card information.
Stoogenke went to police, a major credit card company and even the Secret Service to find out how consumers protected themselves.
Latasha McIlwaine runs her own business. For her, that means a lot of credit cards.
"I try not to count, but probably about 17, almost 20," she said.
She was having lunch in Dilworth recently, got back to her office and noticed her wallet missing.
She called her credit card companies right away and was told someone was already using her cards, even while they were talking.
"As I was on the phone with them, it looked as if something else was being added, a pending charge was added," McIlwaine said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department detective Kevin Jones said don't assume because someone isn't using your card, you're in the clear.
"It can be six months from now, before they start using your credit card information," Jones said.
What should consumers do if it happens to you?
American Express said call your credit company right away. You should not be responsible for fraudulent charges.
Major credit card companies also monitor customer accounts and will call you if something looks unusual.
The Secret Service said to call all three credit bureaus to make sure your credit hasn't changed and call police.
That's what McIlwaine did and she also spent five hours canceling all of her cards.
"It was a headache. It took me from about 4:30, when I started making the calls, to almost 10 that night," McIlwaine said.
There are a lot of places to call and call quickly. Officials advise consumers to have account information and to have your credit card company's phone number.
For more information – here is a list of phone numbers for help:
Trans Union: 800-680-7289
Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center: 877-438-4338
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in Mecklenburg County – 311 - or outside Mecklenburg County - 704-336-7600