How to reduce risk when your credit card is stolen or lost

If you’ve ever lost or had your credit card stolen, then you probably distinctively recall how worrisome it was when this occurred. Credit card loss can result in significant problems if the situation isn’t dealt with expediently, and it’s helpful to understand what you need to do in the event such a loss ever happens. The best protection against credit card loss is to first arm yourself with the knowledge of how to respond in the event your card goes missing.

Keep records

A good preventative measure is to keep a running list of your creditors’ phone numbers. In this list, you should include the corresponding account numbers and expiration dates. It’s also a good idea to keep a photocopy of each credit card and lock it away in a safe place. If you organize your account information, then it’ll make it easier to report a loss and your creditor can quickly respond to take corrective action.

While keeping track of your creditors’ contact information and your credit card details is a good start, there is more you can do to protect yourself. If you experience a loss, by taking the following steps, you can significantly reduce any potential damage to your credit and limit your monetary loss.

Who to Call

Call your creditor immediately when you discover you have a missing card. According to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), you are only liable for $50 of unauthorized use of your credit card. If any charges are made after you report the loss, then you are not responsible for any subsequent charges made. If you don’t report it, you will be held responsible, so it’s important to act quickly.

Next, contact credit reporting agencies to let them know what happened. Call Equifax, TransUnion and Experian and ask them to place an entry of “Fraud Alert” to be reflected on your credit card accounts. Contacting these agencies immediately will help safeguard your credit scores and history.

What to Do

Retracing where you have been is an important start because going back over your steps may lead you to learn someone has found your card or turned it in to the merchant.

If you do find your credit card, you’ll still want to report it and request a new card because someone may have jotted down the account displayed on the card and tucked it away for future use. To be on the safe side, it’s best to get a new card reissued to protect yourself against someone else fraudulently using your card.

Additionally, send your creditor documentation in writing. It’s always also a good idea to follow up on any conversations you’ve had with your creditor with written correspondence. Include all relevant information, also maintain records of who you’ve spoken with and itemize what was said in those conversations. This paper trail after the loss of a credit card may prove valuable if you have troubles with your account at a later date.

Follow up

Check your statements routinely or log on to your online account. Be on the lookout for any unusual activity or purchases you haven’t made. If you see something amiss on your bill, then contact your creditor in writing and include the date you reported your card missing. Regularly going over your statement is good practice even if your card hasn’t gone missing. With the number of data breaches occurring, even if your card is not lost or physically stolen, your information may have been swiped digitally by cyber-criminals.

Credit card loss can be frustrating, but by taking defensive measures and documenting everything as it occurs, you’ll protect both yourself and your credit standing. Not knowing if a stranger has already charged the maximum available credit is an angst-ridden feeling, but if you immediately put a stop to someone potentially using it, the risk factors are quickly decreased. The above steps will significantly help reduce the chances of any harm being done to your credit history.