Losing a credit card or having it stolen is a very nerve-wracking experience. In fact, credit card theft feels very much like a personal violation. In this electronic age, our credit cards are linked to our identity and when they are stolen, we are not risking just the loss of money, but we are put at risk for identity theft. It is imperative to know what to do if your credit card has been lost or stolen.
First Things First – Act Fast!
If you discover that your credit card has been lost or stolen, the first thing you have to do is notify the credit card issuer. You should have contact information for your credit cards in a secure place with the card numbers. Immediately call the company, regardless of the time of day, and notify them that your card is missing. They will immediately cancel it. This will prevent any further transactions from being made on the card and may even help to catch the person if the card has been stolen.
You are liable for only $50 of fraudulent charges made on your credit card, according to federal law. However, most credit card issuers will not even charge you that amount. Following telephone notification that your card is missing, send the company a certified letter concerning it also with details about the conversation you had about it with their representative.
Stolen Credit Card versus Lost Credit Card
If your credit card has been stolen, the next thing you will want to do is contact the police and file a report. You may know something about the last time you used your card that may help the police actually find out who stole it. If your entire wallet or purse was stolen, you are at risk for other violations because now the thief has your identification, your home address and your credit cards. These are the basis for major identity theft. You should take steps to block any new credit from being taken out in your name.
If you have lost a credit card, you should assume that it has fallen into the wrong hands or was even stolen. Carefully retrace your steps in an attempt to find the missing card, once you have canceled it. Contact the issuer and find out when it was used last. You may have inadvertently left it behind at some establishment and it may be waiting for you there. If you do happen to find it and it was left in a public place, make sure to take the same precautions that you would if it were stolen.
One thing that people often forget to do once they have a new credit card again is to follow up and make sure there are no long term effects from the stolen or lost card. If your missing card is in the wrong hands, there may be some delinquent charges that remain on your credit report or, even worse, a new card may be opened in your name and you may have new charges that you know nothing about.
If you have lost your credit card or been the victim of credit card theft, be sure to watch your credit report regularly for the next few years to come. Order a copy on a regular basis and check it thoroughly to make sure that the activity there is indeed yours. This will ensure that you are aware of any problems in a timely manner so they can be taken care of without too many problems.
Once a credit card has been canceled by the credit card issuer, you cannot reactivate it. They will transfer your balance to a new card and replace the one you lost with it. Typically this is done relatively quickly.
This may also be a good time for you to shop around for a new credit card. There are many different credit card issuers out there who want you to carry their card in your wallet. Many have different, more high-tech security features than the card you lost may have had. You may also find that there are credit cards with better rates, terms and rewards than your previous card. Take the time to check out the different credit cards and compare them to make sure you are getting the absolute best deal possible. Use the free credit card “Chaser” tool now on our home page to get started finding the best credit card for you!
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