It can happen to anyone. You reach in your pocket or purse and your wallet is missing. Or you reach into your wallet and your credit or debit card is missing. Your heart races. Did you leave it somewhere? Or did something else happen? Once you’re convinced your bank card is lost or stolen, you may be wondering what to do. Keep reading for some expert advice on what you should do not only if you lose your cards, but how to keep from losing them in the first place.
The first thing you should do if your credit or debit card goes missing is disable it. Depending on the type of card, that may be as simple as turning it off using your banking app. It may also require a call to your card company.
Even if you can turn it off your card at your app, you should still call your credit card company. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible. Note: the Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liability for unauthorized transactions to $50 if you report your lost card within 48 hours. If you can report the loss of your card before anyone uses it, you may not be responsible for any fraudulent transactions at all. However, if you report it after 48 hours, you could be liable for up to $500. If you wait 60 days, you could be liable for all charges.
What happens if you lose your credit card abroad? You’ll need to call your issuer’s international phone number, rather than their domestic one.
Then you need to start assembling things to verify your identity and locate any fraudulent chargers. You’ll likely need to supply things like your full name, address, Social Security number, etc. Your credit card company will need to know things like your most recent charge. You should also take a look at your homeowners or renters insurance policies. They may cover any liability you are responsible for if someone uses your card.
Follow up with your credit card company after you’ve reported the loss. Send them an email with things like:
- Your account number
- The date and time when you realized your card was missing
- The date and manner you used to report the loss to your credit card provider
- As much information as you can provide about your last purchase
After your credit card goes missing, be sure to review your statements for the next few months to see if there are any unfamiliar charges. It’s important to do this because even if you report the theft of your credit card, it doesn’t guarantee there will be no hiccups during the cancellation process. If you notice any irregular transactions, contact your card issuer immediately.
What Happens After I Cancel my Credit Card?
Once you’ve cancelled your card, you’ll need to cut it up and properly dispose of it. Your card issuer will send you a new card with a new number, etc. Because you aren’t closing your accounts, just getting a new card, it may not even impact your credit score. Once you receive your new card, you’ll need to activate it before you can start using it.
What if I Think my Card is Lost, Rather than Stolen?
Certain card issuers allow you to freeze your card rather than cancel it. This gives you the opportunity to retrace your steps and try to find your card. But experts say that if it isn’t likely you’ll find it within 24 hours, you should just cancel it.
What can I do to Prevent Credit or Debit Card Theft in the Future?
The key to protecting your credit and debit cards in the future is denying other people access to them. This means you’ll want to do things like:
- Leave any cards you won’t need at home, and store them in a secure place.
- Develop a routine for how you treat your credit cards. Do things like always keep your card in your hand or in your wallet. Never leave them on the table for example.
- Cut up old credit cards, but be careful of how you throw them out. They could be found by dumpster divers. Some people cut their cards up and then store them in a safe place.
- Keep the other things associated with your credit card, like account numbers, in a safe place as well.
- Look over your statements as soon as they are available, and compare them to the receipts you’ve been collecting.
- Scammers frequently call people pretending to be their bank or card provider. Never give your card info out over the phone unless you were the one who placed the call.
- Always be sure to protect your PIN. If you write it down, don’t leave it somewhere easy to see.
What Should I do if I Find Someone Else’s Credit Card?
If you find yourself holding another person’s bank card, you should call the customer service number on the back of the card. Then you’ll need to provide the issuer with things like the account number or the cardholder’s name. Then the issuer will do many of the same things they’d do if you’d lost your own card. They’ll cancel the card and issue a new one to the card holder.
Losing your credit or debit card can potentially cause you a lot of issues and be extremely stressful. If you follow the expert advice above, won’t break a sweat and won’t have to worry about finding any fraudulent charges on your statement. So now you can carry your bank card with confidence when you need to, and leave it at home in a safe place when you don’t. And if the worst does happen, you’ll know exactly what to do.