What to Do When Your Credit Card Gets Stolen
Using a credit card is typically safe and highly convenient. However, even the most attentive cardholders are at risk of credit card theft or loss. The situation can be alarming, especially since your identity and account can be used to commit fraud and other crimes.
If misfortune strikes and your card gets lost or stolen, don’t panic. Here are some steps that you can and should take if this ever happens to you.
Contact Your Credit Card Issuer Immediately
This is the first thing you should do the moment you realize your card is lost or stolen. Quick action will limit your liability for any unauthorized credit card charges. Most companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour hotlines for emergencies such as loss and theft.The credit card company will issue specific instructions on what to do, and you’ll want to follow them to the letter.
If you want to be thorough, follow up the report with an email or a letter. Indicate your account number, the date and time you discovered the loss or theft, as well as the date and time you reported the loss. Keep copies of all correspondences for reference.
Reporting the loss of your card will ensure that you cannot be held liable to any unauthorized purchases, transfers, and other transactions that occur after your report.
Review Your Credit Card Statement
Check your billing statement immediately after the incidence of theft to see if any unauthorized transactions have been made. If you find any, report these to your credit card provider right away.
If you report the loss or theft before the credit card is used, you are not responsible for any unauthorized charges, as per the Fair Credit Billing Act of FCBA. However, should any illegal transaction happen after your report, the FCBA says your liability is at $50 maximum. You won’t be liable for any unauthorized use if only the number and not the actual credit card is stolen.
File a Report with the Police and with the Federal Trade Commission
Documenting the incident through an identity theft report will help prove that any fraudulent transactions using your name and card wasn’t you.It will also help the authorities in finding and charging the perpetrators.
To complete an identity theft report, you should file both an Identity Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission and a police report. Keep all your paperwork in one file for reference and evidence.
Destroy Cards and Checks Connected to the Credit Card
If you used the compromised credit card in any auto-pay services and online banking, cancel these immediately to prevent any unauthorized use. Inform retailers, service providers, and other billers enrolled in your online banking about the theft, the subsequent request for cancellation, and the re-enrollment of a new credit card once the new one has been issue.
Once you’ve made all necessary steps to protect yourself, the only thing left to do is continue to be watchful. Follow step-by-step guidelines from both your credit card company and the authorities, and, hopefully, you’ll close the case without going through a long and grueling process.