It’s a scary, sinking feeling when you realize your credit card has been stolen. Once it’s in the hands of someone else, it can quickly be used to make unauthorized purchases.
The good news is most credit cards do not put any liability on the consumers for charges made when the card is lost or stolen if you report the loss quickly, meaning you will not owe money for purchases you didn’t make.
Follow these steps to protect yourself and your finances.
1. Report the stolen card.
Call your issuer immediately and alert them that your card has been stolen. Let them know if you have seen any fraudulent purchases come across on your statement. Either way, they will cancel the account for you so no future fraudulent purchases can be made with your card.
You will receive a new card with different numbers in the mail shortly.
2. Follow up with a letter.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, you also should mail a follow-up letter to your issuer for their records.
“Include your account number, the date and time when you noticed your card was missing and when you first reported the loss,” the FTC recommends.
Make sure to keep a copy of the letter you sent, and send it by certified mail with a return receipt to confirm it was received.
“If you see any indication of
unauthorized charges, call your issuer.”
3. Contact the credit bureaus
Now you need to contact one of the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax or Experian) and request for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report. This means an authorized person will not be able to open new lines of credit in your name.
According to IdentityHawk, a fraud prevention company, you only need to contact one of the credit bureaus, as they are required by law to let the other bureaus know when someone has placed a fraud alert.
4. Review your credit card statements and report.
Moving forward, you must carefully monitor your credit card statements and your credit reports from the three agencies to make sure nothing suspicious shows up.
If you see any indication of unauthorized charges, call your issuer again to make sure they are aware of these fraudulent transactions.
5. Update your auto-billing accounts.
Many people have bills for items such as cell phones or Internet to be automatically charged to their credit card each month.
Make a list of every account you had on autopay with this stolen card, and then go and update each one with your new card. This will ensure you continue to pay all your bills on time and don’t accidentally get any dings to your credit.
Photo source: thetimes.co.uk
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.