Increasingly, consumers are using credit cards rather than cash for everything from online shopping to purchasing their morning coffee. Unfortunately, credit card theft and fraud is equally on the rise and the more you carry and use credit cards, the more likely it is that they could become lost or stolen.
What should you do if you discover that you have lost your credit card or find that it has been stolen? Before you panic, know your rights and responsibilities in regards to your credit card account and take steps to protect your credit standing.
Report the loss or theft to your credit card company as soon as you discover it. Most companies have toll-free numbers that you can call to report the theft or unauthorized use. You can usually find this number printed on the back of your credit card. Since you won’t have your card to refer to, take time now to make a list of all your cards and their toll-free numbers in case of an emergency.
Follow up your phone call in writing. Send a letter that includes your account number, when you discovered the loss and the date and time that you reported the loss to the credit card company.
Even if a thief has managed to use your card for unauthorized purchases or other charges, Federal law limits your financial responsibility to $50.00 if you have reported the loss of your card. If you report it missing before it is used, you cannot be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made to your card.
For a fee you can register with a service that will keep track of all your credit cards and in the event of a loss, will contact your credit card companies for you. There is a certain amount of convenience involved with a registration service – if you lose your wallet, they will contact all of your credit card companies for you. Some services will also monitor purchases made on your credit accounts and notify you so that you can deny any unauthorized use before it happens.
Take steps now to make your credit cards secure and protect yourself from theft and fraud.
* Less is more – don’t carry unnecessary cards with you, take only the cards you will be using.
* Get in the habit of carefully reviewing your monthly statement to make sure that it reflects only those charges you have made with your card. Contact your card company immediately if you spot any suspicious charges on your account.
* Never disclose your credit card number over the phone unless you are absolutely sure that you are dealing with a legitimate company.
* Cut up old cards making sure that you cut through the card number.
* Never sign a blank charge slip.
* Never write your account number on the outside of an envelope.
* Keep a record of all your cards, account numbers and toll-free numbers for reporting losses if they occur.
Know where your credit cards are at all times and follow these guidelines to keep them secure. In the event of a lost or stolen card, report it immediately to protect your account from unauthorized charges and mitigate your financial liability.