What To Do When Your Credit Card Is Lost Or Stolen
Unfortunately, wallets and purses do get stolen or lost on a regular basis. Your biggest concern is usually the fact that your credit cards are missing. If this happens to you, do you have a plan of action? Well, you should. It really isn't as daunting to come up with a credit card action plan as it seems like it should be. All reputable credit card companies have a set policy that helps to protect you against loss or theft. All you need to know is how to get this policy to work for you.
Help! My Credit Card Was Stolen!
Never fear, help is here! The first thing you need to do is report the stolen card to the company as soon as possible. Most companies have a toll-free number or an online service that deals solely with this problem.
Fortunately for you, federal law dictates that you are only liable for the first $50.00 of any fraudulent charges made on a charge card. Still, you are required to report the lost or stolen card even though you're not going to take a huge hit. Here's a little extra incentive to make the call fast: If you report the loss or theft before any unauthorized use, you don't even pay the $50.00.
Many card issuers are waiving the $50 exposure, so check the details on your credit card offer.
After the card is gone, make sure you pay attention to every charge on the bill. Whatever shows up that isn't yours, notify the card company in writing immediately. Make sure to include in the letter the date in which you notified the company that your card was lost or stolen and send it to the billing errors address. Do not send the letter with your payment. It will get lost in the shuffle.
If your card was a debit card, things may work a bit different. The amount of liability you are responsible for depends directly on how quickly you report it lost or stolen. If it is done before it has been used, again you are not responsible for any fraudulent charges. If you wait, even as little as two business days, you could be held liable for up to $500.00 of any fraudulent charges found on the card.
Once your card is gone and you have reported it, review your bills. Make your bank aware of any questionable deductions from your account that occurred during the time your card was lost or stolen. A phone call is great, but follow it up with a certified letter and include the day you reported your card stolen or lost. This should absolve you of any liability.
The best way to avoid stolen or lost cards is to keep track of them. Know where they are at all times and keep your pin number a secret. Also, don't use a pin number that is easy to figure out such as your birth date or phone number. Make it a number that only makes sense to you and keep it that way.
About the Author: Keith Baxter made it his mission after college to educate as many people as possible to the advantages and disadvantages of credit through a widespread re-education initiative. You can find out more about Keith and what he's up to at http://www.bankcreditcardlist.com.