Stolen wallet advice - Florence

Sep 6th, 2005, 06:11 PM
  #1  
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Stolen wallet advice - Florence

I just got a call from a US student in Florence. Her wallet was stolen from her. It contained a debit card to which theives promptly (within the hour) charged $2400 to her personal bank account. They tried to charge $7K to her credit card but they were turned down. The banks and cellphone have been notified and accounts cancelled to prevent further damage.

They also got her driver's license, cellphone, apartment keys but not her passport. Does anyone have any advice?

I told her to go to the college and also to talk to the police to get a report incase anyone needs it to have her account reimbursed etc. We thought it best for us to wire money to American Express in Florence until new credit/debit cards can be sent to her via FedEX.

Does anyone forsee any other problems ahead for her with the theft of her driver's license in terms of identity theft etc.?

Would appreciate any advice ASAP.

Thank you!

kakalena
kakalena is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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Oh, how upsetting!! I would call her State's DMV office, or go on the website if the State has one or go to the nearest DMV office and report the stolen driver's license also. Doesn't sound like they got her passport. That is good!! Oh yes, you said they didn't get her passport. But where is it? In her apartment?

I would worry about the apartment keys, mostly for her safety. Has she contacted the owner of the apartment to have the locks changed? I would do that immediately! Best wishes to all of you.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 06:55 PM
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glad to hear her passport is still with her, that could have been an even larger inconvenience. With regard to the driver's license, it's usually used as picture ID, not so much for access into personal accounts and such. I'm hoping she didn't carry a social security card in her wallet?
elaine is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 08:34 PM
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Thanks LoveItaly and elaine. I wanted to make sure we weren't forgetting something.

She says that her address wasn't in the bag but I hope the apt. locks can be changed right away. We'll get in touch with the DMV tomorrow. No Social Security number in there either which is good.

Please let me know if anyone else thinks of anything.

American Express works through Global Assist to wire money to Western Union and Moneygram locations in Florence. They don't wire to their own AMEX office which surprised me. Is that anyone else's experience?

AMEX first told me to call Moneygram who then told me they don't take the AMEX Card! only Visa and Mastercard.

I called AMEX back and they hooked me up with Global Assist.

kakalena

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Sep 6th, 2005, 08:39 PM
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Fortunately the banks should be able to refund all of her money within a couple of days. We used our bank card in Italy in 2000, it was not stolen (physically) but someone got the number and drained our account several weeks after we returned. The bank put it all back within a week.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 09:11 PM
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Hi kakalena, personally I think you had done a great job of handling everything before you posted here.
And although Driver's Licenses do have a photo on them (or least in CA they do) I have read about people being able to duplicate Driver's Licenses using the stolen ones photo. So contacting the DMV is good...as obviously the people who stole yourn students wallet are professionals.

I personally am glad to hear that this student did not have her apartment address in her wallet but I hope the apartment owners will change the locks right away in any case. Who knows, not to worry you more, but what if someone followed her home. And no I am not paronoid but having spent years in the insurance business I know all the "strange" things people can do.

Please post back here and let us know all is alright.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 11:02 PM
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I'm so sorry to hear about the theft. Damn thieves!

Now...a silly question. What would an Italian thief do with a social security card in Europe? Here in Switzerland, we very rarely use our "AHV" number for anything but applying for a job and getting our pension. No one ever carries it around with them. I know in the states it's another story.
kleeblatt is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 02:09 AM
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schuler, international thieves are all over the world. And when we here in the US have someone steal our social security card which has our social security number on it of course they then have access to a lot of our personal information and can consequently do identify theft. Open up accounts, take out mortgages, buy autos,obtain credit cards etc. in our name without our even knowing about it.

Unfortunatly our social security number has become a national ID number although that was not the original purpose of the social security number.

No one should ever carry their social security card on their person which thankfully this student did not do.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 02:15 AM
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Hello kakalena, rereading your post...I have a question. The theives charged $2,400.00 to her (the student of course) personal bank account.

You said this was a bank debit card. If so how did they do this? Didn't they need her pin number? Did she have her pin number written on a paper in her wallet that was stolen? Thank you, only asking so that I and everyone else can protect ourselves.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 03:54 AM
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Definitely get a police report. She will need one for any claims, possibly for charges on the debit card. Being a student in Florence, I'm not sure her status is in regards to homeowner's or renter's insurance, but she can reclaim up to several hundred dollars cash, plus the cost of cell phone, rekeying apartment, etc.Of course, with the deductible, that might not make sense. Did she have any traveler's checks? Those can be reclaimed, too. As far as debit card goes, I strongly suggest not to get a Visa check card, but rather a plain debit card. It can only be used as an ATM card for withdrawals.Mine doesn't have my name on it. Good idea to call the credit reporting agencies and put a fraud alert on her account, so that no new accounts can be opened without her permission. Also, get copies of the reports periodically to check that all is okay. What a hassle!
Andeesue is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 04:00 AM
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Thanks, Loveitaly, for explaining the social security number problem.
kleeblatt is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 04:16 AM
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Schuler, you are certainly welcome! Your AHV card in Switzerland is the way our Social Security card and the Social Security number was suppose to be many years ago. It was not suppose to be an identity number. But now it is. And the "excuse" is that it is needed to tax purposes, to verify the information you give to a bank to receive a mortgage if you buy a house or a car, to get medical insurance, in some cases to even have utilities turned on in your house etc. And now I can assure you although we are constantly warned to protect our social security number and to be careful who has it I think that hundreds of people have access to each American's social securuity number one way or another, especially since now everything is on computers.

I believe from what I understand that Europe has much stonger laws regarding access to personal information then we have here in the United State.

Best wishes to you and by the way although I have only been in the southern part of your country I wish to say your country is so beautiful!
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 04:16 AM
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LoveItaly - the debit card goes straight to your personal checking account with no PIN for any purchases. An ATM needs a PIN. The thieves bought over $2000 in high end leather goods and probably resold them for cash. Of course the vendor asked for no photo ID they just sold the leather goods.

Thanks Andee for the idea about the Credit Report notification. Who do I call for that? I know there are three major agencies. Do I just pick one?

Kakalena
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Sep 7th, 2005, 04:20 AM
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Loveitaly: Switzerland truly is a beautiful country. Right now we have cloudless skies and a nice soft fall wind blowing. Much different than south of France.

kleeblatt is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 04:39 AM
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When I was mugged in Brussels, the thieves got my drivers license among other things. (Fortunately, I had no fraudulent charges on my debit or credit cards; also my keys were in a separate pocket, so they didn't get those either). The drivers license is a problem. My replacement was a nonphoto drivers license; to get one with a photo, I would have to go back to the state that issued it.
I recommend to students or others living abroad to not carry their drivers' licenses with them on their daily routine (unless they're driving)--leave them at "home"--in the apartment, foyer, whatever. In main cities, you can easily get a passport replaced in a few days; a driver's license takes a lot longer.
Also, don't keep your keys in the same place as your personal ID, if your ID has your local address (another note: some apartment complexes give you keychains engraved with the building's address. Don't use them).
The police in Brussels told me most thieves in Europe have no interest in U.S. driver's licenses. They want, in order of desirability: cash, credit cards and passports (if the wallet itself is really nice, they may keep it or give it to a friend). Everything else is usually tossed.
When I was mugged (by three guys who threw me down and grabbed my purse--they had also attacked people with money belts, no benefit to the belts in that case), the hardest things for me to replace were my driver's license and prescription sunglasses.
BTilke is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 05:01 AM
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Hi kakalena, here are the names & info for the major Credit Bureaus:

Equifax: P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
1-800-525-6285
www.equifax.com

Experian: P.O Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
1-888EXPERIAN (397-3742
www.experian.com
TransUnion P.O.Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
1-800-680-7289
www.transunion.com

Here are the phone numbers I have for anyone wanting to get a free credit report:

Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
Experian: 1-800-397-3742
TransUnion: 1-800-888-4213
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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OK, after one has a stolen wallet as the student did in Florence the credit agencies should be notified. My last post listed the three major agencies.
Talk to them and ask them about putting a "freeze" on the person so that no credit card, mortgage, auto loan can be obtained in the students name unless she is contacted first. Get the information from each agency and document the instructions, the date and time of the call and the name of the person you talked to.

Regarding credit reports:
After a bit of time call the second list of phone numbers for a credit report. As I understand every US citizens is legally able to get a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies but there are even special circumstances for someone that has ID theft. For the rest of us (non victims of ID theft) we are legally able to get a report annually from each of the agencies. Experts have suggested calling one agency, four months late the next agency and four months after that the third agency. Then start all over again the next year.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 05:29 AM
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Oh BTilke, how horrible!! Were you physically injured? I know you must have been so mentally jarred. I am so sorry. What an experience. It can happen anywhere but being out of the country, although I know you now live in Europe, would make it even worse.

About glasses. Since I have given up contacts I take 2 pair of regular prescription glasses and 2 pair of prescription sunglasses when I travel. How is that for being overcautious.

And I agree with you, anyone in Europe does not need to walk around with their drivers license unless they are going to drive an auto. I never have my passport with me, just a photocopy. The original along with my CA DL is always at the safe hotel or one of my friends house.

Kakalena, through my bank I just have an ATM card not a debitATM card. Consequently my ATM card can only be used for getting cash out of my checking account and only with my PIN.
I do have another account that has an ATM/Debit card which I never use. I do take it when I travel out of the US as a backup but always keep that in the hotel safe or with one of my friends also. I have read here on Fodors in Italy you usually now need an ATM/Debit card versus just an ATM card to get cash. I have a friend that just started working for the company that controls all this...I am going to ask him as I prefer to just carry the ATM card on a day to day basis.

I sure hope your student is alright. What a lot of time and effort you have and will be spending regarding this. She is fortunate to have your help. Thanks for your answer and take good care.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 05:34 AM
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Hello Schuler, your beautiful Switzerland sounds wonderful right now. What area do you live in? As I told you I have only been in the southern portion of Switzerland. The crisp air, the scenery, the kind and lovely people etc was wonderful. You make me wish I was there. Best wishes to you.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 06:09 AM
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I live between the lake of Zürich and the lake of Lucerne. My hometown is 950 meters high and has a population of 2,000. It belongs to canton Schwyz.
kleeblatt is offline  

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