You might regard your credit card as a friend, someone who’s always there to buy you lunch or a major appliance. But what to do if you lose your credit card?
Nobody wants to lose a friend.
If you lose your credit card, don’t leave it hanging. It’s time to swing into action, before someone, like a fraudster, milks your plastic buddy for all it’s worth.
Quickness counts. Here are five steps to take if your credit card is lost or stolen.
Step 1. Call your credit card issuer
Call your credit card issuer immediately to report the loss or theft of your missing card. Typically, you would check the back of the card for the telephone number to call. That’s not an option when your card has been lost or stolen.
Don’t panic. You can find your credit card issuer’s phone number on your credit card statement or online. You may be able to report your loss on the card issuer’s website or at a bank branch.
Keep in mind that federal law limits your liability for unauthorized charges. The most you'll pay is $50. But act fast. You’ll want to resolve the matter before anyone starts racking up bogus transactions and fraudulent charges on your card.
Tip: If you report your lost or stolen card before anyone uses it, you won’t be liable for any unauthorized charges.
Step 2. Get prepped with information
Your credit card issuer will need to verify your identity. You’ll likely need to supply information such as your name, address and Social Security number.
Your issuer may want to know when your card was lost or stolen and when you made your last charge. They may review recent transactions with you to see if any of them appear to be fraudulent.
Your issuer will cancel your account and mail you a new credit card with a new account number.
Make sure to update your mobile wallet if it also includes the lost card as a means of payment.
Getting your lost card replaced should have no effect on your credit report or credit score. Just remember that if you were using the lost card to make automatic payments for you, make sure you provide those vendors your new card number. In the short term, you may have to make manual payments. It’s important to continue making your payments on time.
Step 3. Follow up and keep records
It’s a good idea to follow up after reporting your loss. Send your credit card issuer a letter or an email. Here’s what to conclude:
- Your account number.
- The date and time you noticed your card was missing.
- When and how you reported the loss to the issuer.
Make a note of when you sent your letter. Keep a copy for yourself.
Step 4. Check your credit card statement
Remember to closely review your credit card statement after you’ve reported your card lost.
If you see any charges that appear fraudulent or unfamiliar, call your credit card company as soon as possible.
Step 5. Check your insurance coverage
Some homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover your liability for credit card theft. While the maximum you would have to pay out of pocket is $50, it may be worth checking to see if your insurance policy would cover that amount.
You might also want to consider adding coverage for lost cards to your policy, if it’s available.
Keep in mind that some credit card issuers offer zero liability as a card feature. In such cases, adding coverage through a homeowner’s policy might not be necessary.
Things you can do to prevent future lost or stolen credit cards
There are a lot of ways to lose a credit card. You might lose your wallet—and your card. You might leave your card at a checkout counter. You might slip it into your purse only to have it slip out.
It’s a good idea to take steps to help prevent the loss or theft of a credit card in the future.
Here are some suggestions, along with a few tips to consider just in case you do lose a card:
- Carry only the cards you need.
- Keep your credit card securely in your wallet or purse. Don’t break with routine and, say, slip your card in a breast pocket or top of your sock.
- Cut up old credit cards before you throw them away. Make sure you cut through the account number.
- Keep track of your cards and store ones you don’t use in a secure place.
- Keep a record of your credit card information in a safe location. Consider including account numbers, expiration dates, and telephone numbers for each issuer. That way, you’ll be ready to report a lost or stolen credit card when you need to.
- Check your credit card statements as soon as they arrive. Look for charges you don’t think you made.
- Guard your account number. Identity thieves don't always need your credit card to commit identity fraud. The account number might be enough. Be careful not to write your account number down on paper or anywhere someone might find it.
- Avoid sharing your credit card number over the phone unless you made the call. And don’t forget to make sure no one is eavesdropping.
Bottom line: It’s a good idea to know what to do when you lose a credit card. After all, you want to help protect yourself from credit card fraud.
It’s also smart to remember to treat your card with care and respect.
That’s what friends do.