What to do if your Credit Card is Lost or Stolen

In this age of identity theft, losing your credit card or having it stolen is extremely frightening. We constantly hear stories of people having their credit score annihilated, being charged thousands of dollars in unauthorized credit card charges, and attempting to rebuild their financial lives after having suffered through arguments with credit reporting bureaus and credit card companies. However, despite all of this negative news, there exists many positives. For example, many credit card companies now monitor your charges and will call you or temporarily suspend the card if a lot of purchases are being made at one time. Additionally, many companies now offer comprehensive coverage and protection against credit card fraud.

Should your credit card be lost or stolen, the first thing you have to do is call that credit card company. Usually, the phone number for your credit card company can be found on your credit card bill or statement. If you do not keep copies of past credit card bills or statements, the credit card company’s website will have all of the contact information you need. There may be a specific phone number for lost/stolen credit cards or a “fraud prevention” phone number. If your credit card company does not have these numbers you can call the general, customer service number.

Once you reach a representative, inform him/her that your card has been lost or stolen, as the case may be, and that you would like to suspend the account to prevent any unauthorized charges from being processed. After confirming your identity by asking you certain sercurity questions, the representative should comply. It may be the policy of your credit card company to close your account in order to prevent possible fraud in the future. If such is the case, find out if having them close your account will negatively affect your credit score. If it does, you may want to ask about other options.

Even after you suspend your account, monitor your statements closely to make sure that no unauthorized purchases were made. If unauthorized purchases continue (once you reactivate your card) it may be best to close that account and open a new one with the same credit card company.

While you are on the phone with the representative, ask about all recent charges. The representative should go through all of the charges that were made to your account since the date that your credit card was lost or stolen. Additionally, if any unauthorized charges were made, you need to immediately contest them. Keep in mind that every credit card company is different. Some will immediately remove the contested purchases while others may take longer.

You need to make sure that you will not be liable for these unauthorized charges. The last thing you want to do is pay for a thief’s purchases. As such, the minute that you discover that your credit card is missing, you need to contact your credit card company. The longer you wait, the more suspicious your credit card company may be.

The bottom line is, do not panic, contact your credit card company immediately, suspend your credit card account to prevent any future charges, continue to monitor your monthly statements after reactivation, and know that there may be some challenges disputing inaccurate information depending on your credit card company.