First, allow yourself only a brief moment of panic because you need to take immediate action. In the time it takes to ask, “I lost my credit card, what should I do?” you could be on the phone contacting your credit card company to inform them of the loss. At that moment, you are off the hook for any charges and the issuer will deactivate the card. The inconvenience of being without a credit card for a few days is far better than allowing someone to have their way with your credit. You should also know that, by law, you are only liable for $50 of unauthorized charges, but many credit cards protect you from the first dollar. Still, it can be a big hassle.
If you are away from your home when you discover your card is missing, dial 411 to get in contact with your card issuer’s 800 customer service number. Otherwise, the number can be found on the billing statement. If you don’t have your account number, the card issuer will be able to identify you by your Social Security number. You will need to pinpoint the time, and maybe even the place at which you believe your card went missing. They will ask you about your last purchase and the amount. It’s a good idea to follow-up your call with letter so you have a paper trail of your report.
As previously noted, credit cardholders are protected from fraudulent use of their card by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). Unauthorized use of your card is protected fully once you report it missing. Depending on your card company, you may be responsible for charges made prior to reporting your card missing, up to $50. Check with your card issuer to see if they provide extra liability protection on any and all unauthorized charges.
From the moment you realize your credit card is lost, you should check your account online for any activity. It’s not enough to check it periodically. Account activity is often reported real-time so you can see any activity almost as it happens. So, checking your account at least daily is recommended. Any unusual or unauthorized activity should be reported to your card issuer immediately.
This would be the best time to shore up the security of all of your financial accounts. To prevent the possibility of losing a credit card again, take these steps today:
• Limit the number of credit cards you carry. Most people only need to carry one. Leave the others at home in a secure location, preferably a safe.
• Never let your credit card out of your sight. It’s tough to do that at a restaurant when the server takes it to go ring up your tab, so you might consider using cash.
• Always return your credit card to its secure place in your wallet. Credit cards are easily lost when people are hurried and simply slip them into a pocket.
• Make a list of all of your account providers with 800 numbers and keep them in your wallet or on your phone.