How a credit card theft turned into a ‘teachable moment’


Credit card theft remains a serious problem in the United States. In fact, it is the most common type of identity fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In a March report on credit card and other types of fraud, the agency said that the previous 12 months saw thousands of people victimized in the pocketbook. “While we received fewer overall complaints in 2017, consumers reported losing more money to fraud than they did the year before,” Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a press release.

“This underscores the importance of the FTC’s work in educating consumers and cracking down on the scammers who try to take their money.”

One woman’s saga to track down the person who used her stolen credit card

While we appreciate the many agencies that work hard to prevent consumer fraud, we may often wonder what would happen if a theft victim got the rare opportunity to confront a perpetrator? Thankfully in one such case out of Memphis, Tennessee, things turned out well for all involved.

Chantel McKinney said that she was out and about one day when she experienced a consumer’s worst nightmare: She lost her credit card.

“I had the card at Sam’s, and then when I got to Kroger, I couldn’t find the card,” McKinney told TV station WREG. “I got a text message that said someone was at Wild Wings hot wing place on Winchester. I called the place and asked if the person was still there, because my card was being used.”

Now, this is the part where we tell you that it’s probably not a good idea to take matters into your own hands — but that’s exactly what McKinney did. She went to Wild Wings, but the perpetrator had already left. Minutes later, her credit card rang up a charge at AutoZone.

“You feel violated someone is using your card and taking your hard earned money,” she told the news station. McKinney took a page out of law enforcement’s handbook and sought help from Wild Wings, where she was able to obtain security camera footage of the thief in action.

Armed with the video, but still without her credit card, McKinney knew she needed more eyes on the lookout for her, so she did pretty much what anybody in this day and age would do: She turned to social media.

She uploaded to Facebook the Wild Wings video that showed the person with her card and asked people to share it. Soon, she received a message in her inbox from the mother of the woman seen on camera. You can imagine the apprehension on both sides!


Eventually, the parties decided to meet. “We met at the Hickory Hill police precinct, and I saw the girl was in the car,” McKinney was quoted as saying. “She was shaking and crying.”

As she approached the culprit, an 18-year-old, the initial anger McKinney felt began to subside.

“I figured OK you’ve got two options: You can let her go into the system, which is a hard to get out of, or you can show her kindness, forgiveness and love,” she told the TV station. The 18-year-old apologized for the theft and reimbursed McKinney for the illegal expenses. Then, they hugged.

The two bonded in the end. “There are teachable moments, and then there are times where you have to show tough love. I think this was a teachable moment,” McKinney told WREG.

Money expert Clark Howard says this feel-good story happened due to a convergence of things that all had to go right.

Listen to Clark discuss this topic on the Clark Howard Radio Show

What would you have done in this situation? Let us know on our Facebook page.

RELATED: 10 things you must do if your identity is stolen

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