It can be frustrating to have your credit card or debit card lost stolen. Maybe you lost your wallet or your purse was snatched. Or you may be in a situation where your information is stolen online through a hacked database.
Either situation has the potential to give the thief access to all of your personal account information. That's why you need to act as soon as you notice there is something wrong with your account. Here's what to do if your credit card is lost or stolen.
Contact Your Credit Card Company
The first step is to contact your credit card company as soon as you notice that your credit card is missing. If you report your credit card missing before it's used, you will not be responsible for any unauthorized charges. If the card is used before you can report it missing, your maximum liability will be $50.
You may have a larger window if you find that you have an incorrect or fraudulent charge on your account since most people will not find the charge before reviewing their monthly statements. Pro tip: Do this every month to protect yourself from fraudulent or incorrect charges.
Wait for Your New Credit Card
Once you report the loss, the credit card company will cancel your current card and issue you a new one. They may contact you if they think that your information has been compromised, and send you a new card as a precaution.
This means that you will have a few days where you do not have access to your credit card account, so it's important that you have other cards you can use (like a debit card) and an emergency fund. You may also need to review the charges that come through in the next few days, so they can determine which charges are legitimate and which ones are not.
File a Police Report
You should also file a police report if your credit card was stolen. You will need this report to protect yourself if you have to dispute charges with your credit card company or other vendors.
If your identity is stolen as a result of this theft, you will have a report dating back to the time you originally had the theft. This is why the police report is important. Be sure to keep several copies of the report. If you had multiple cards stolen, you can use the same police report. Keep in mind that you will also need to submit a copy to your bank. However, it's important to keep a copy or two on file for your records.
Contact Your Bank
You may also need to contact your bank if your checkbook or debit cards were also stolen or lost. You will follow nearly the same procedure if your checkbook were stolen.
Be sure to continue to monitor all of your accounts to make sure that you do not have any unauthorized activity on the account. You should keep an eye on it for several weeks, because thieves may wait to access your account.
Change Your Automatic Payments
Another important step is to change all of the automatic payments that you have tied to that credit card. This can include automatic debits for bills or other payments, PayPal or Venmo accounts, even your rent or mortgage.
Updating your card information will prevent you from falling behind on payments and being hit with late fees. It can take time to update your payment information on all your various accounts, but it's an important step in the process.
You may want to make a list of bills that are automatically debited, and the accounts you use that card to pay with, so you can make the changes quickly. Do not put your account numbers on this list, just label them with the bank name or card information.
Monitor Your Credit Report
If you have your credit card number or bank information stolen, you will need to monitor your credit over the next several months.
Check Your Credit Report
You should check your credit report to ensure that no one has opened accounts under your name. Here's how: You can do this for free every year through the three major credit agencies.
If you alternate between the agencies, you can check at one every four months, making it easier to keep an eye on your credit. If you find an unauthorized account, you will need to report it as identity theft and contact the bank that opened the account. You may need to monitor your credit report for several months or even years, but remember, it's necessary if your credit card was lost or stolen.
You can also notify the credit reporting agencies that you want a credit freeze—also called a security freeze. The freeze, which is free, prevents any new accounts from being opened and can be helpful if you believe your identity has been stolen.
However, the credit freeze can also be used as a fraud prevention tool to ensure that no one opens accounts in your name. When you want to apply for credit, such as a loan or credit card, you can turn off the freeze temporarily until the new account or loan has been opened. A credit freeze can be turned on or off at any time and can provide you with an added layer of security and peace of mind.