So you’ve lost your credit card. Telling you not to panic at this point isn’t going to help because you already did that when you looked in your wallet, pocket or bag and realized the credit card you expected to be there wasn’t. Then you went through the frantic search, trying to remember the last place you used it and now you’re here, trying to figure out what to do next.
Help! I Lost a Credit Card
First, don’t panic. If you’re lucky, you’ve dropped it somewhere no one will ever find it. If you’re not so lucky, it was stolen and the culprit is already using it. Either way, acting now is in your best interest. Here’s a step-by-step guide for what you should do now that your credit card has been lost or stolen.
1. Contact Your Issuer
Remember that time is of the essence. That’s because you want to limit the opportunity window someone has to use your card. So, even if you think your card is going to turn up in the next few days, it’s better to be safe than sorry because it can end up costing you. Most card issuers have a dedicated team available 24/7 to take calls for lost and stolen credit cards, so there’s no need to wait until the next day if it’s after hours. (Note: These details only apply to consumers — businesses aren’t offered the same protections.)
Visa and MasterCard offer zero-liability for unauthorized transactions on your credit card, and you’re liable for a maximum of $50 if someone does make fraudulent charges on your card before you report it missing. Debit cards that are stolen can end up costing you a lot more, however. Not only will the funds go missing from your account right away, but you’re liable for up to $500 in unauthorized charges, but only if you report your card missing within two days. On credit cards, if you wait more than 60 days, your liability could potentially be unlimited. (The rules are different for debit cards.)
If you’re wondering how you go about canceling your credit card, the process is fairly simple. When you call to report your card missing or stolen, the issuer will cancel that card and issue a new card with a new account number. Some issuers allow you to use that new account number right away before you receive the card, so if you’re worried about cash flow or bills coming due, ask your representative what options are available to you.
“If your ID was included in the theft/loss, contact the credit bureaus for a security freeze,” Thomas Nitzsche, media relations manager at ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, advised. Doing so will ensure no one opens a new account in your name using your personal information. There could be a small fee for doing so, but again, better safe than sorry.
2. Review Your Recent Purchases
This is something you can and should do with your issuer while you’re on the phone reporting your card lost or stolen. You’ll want to go over all recent charges to make sure you recognize them. Have the issuer flag any purchases you do not recognize as possibly fraudulent.
3. File a Police Report
If you believe your card was stolen, file a police report. The process is fairly simple, but typically does require a trip to your local precinct to fill out necessary paperwork. Call your local police department to find out what steps you need to take and what information you’ll need to bring with you.
4. Change Your Autopay Information
“Contact any companies who auto-bill the lost/stolen account and update them with a new card/account so that you don’t experience payment delays and possible fees or service interruption,” Nitzsche said.
You can do this easily and avoid missing an autopay account by reviewing your statements over the last year. While remembering the monthly billings might be easy enough to remember, it’s easy to forget about quarterly, annual or semi-annual billings. Review your statements for the last 12 months to be sure you don’t miss any.
Remember, your card doesn’t have to be stolen for you to be the victim of credit card fraud. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your credit scores and credit report, as these can give you signs that you are the victim of fraud. Look out for things like accounts you don’t recognize or sudden drops in your scores. You can see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.