In 2018, Americans lost $ 0.9 billion through fraudulent card payments where the card was reported lost or stolen according to the statistics website statista.
These figures are enough to send a chill down your spine whenever you reach out to your pocket (or purse) and discover that I lost my credit card.
Despite the uneasy feeling you get after such a discovery, the best thing you can do is not to panic.
If you are wondering what to do if when your credit card is lost, read on and find out the simple, logical and practical things you can do to survive a lost credit card.
Double-Check That You’ve Actually Lost the Card
First, double check and retrace your steps. Could you have left it somewhere you cannot recall immediately?
You need a sober mind to try and re-track your steps.
Make sure, for example, that you didn’t unconsciously put the card in your jacket pocket or directly in your purse instead of in your wallet. Also, you can check your car and see if it slipped and wedged in the crack between your seat and the middle console.
Think calmly about where you’ve been, when you last saw the card and what activities were you doing at the time.
When you physically or mentally retrace your steps it helps you to remember where the card might have been left.
However, if you are certain that you’ve lost your credit card, again, the best action to take is first taking a deep breath and release some of the anxiety – as well as panic – from your system.
Next, you need to take the following steps to survive a possible onslaught on your card.
Lock Your Card Immediately
The major card issuers in the US allow clients to lock or freeze their credit cards remotely without having to get in touch with customer help centers.
You can simply activate the lock function on your card through a mobile app or by visiting their company’s website.
Locking your card prevents new charges from being applied to the card. However, it is a temporary solution as recurring, automated charges will still go through.
When you lock the card, you buy some time to search for it and confirm that it is truly lost, not just misplaced. Then you can contact the issuer and permanently block the card.
Report the Missing Card Immediately
If you are certain that the card is lost, then you can get in touch with the issuer and report the loss. All the major card issuers have a 24-hour toll-free number – nationally and internationally – for customers to call and report lost credit cards.
Here’s a list of the top five card issuers and the emergency numbers to call
Issuer Local toll-free number
Chase ® 1-800-432-3117
MasterCard ® 1-800-627-8372
American Express ® 1-800-528-2122
Discover ® 1-800-347-2683
If your card issuer is not among these, you can look up their number on your statement or just check their official website.
When making the call, many people think that you need to have the card number on hand. Yes, having your card number ready is helpful. Normally, the card number is found on the back of the card. But, now that’s not an option because you’ve lost your credit card.
But don’t fret. The customer service official can look up that information from their database.
However, what is important to know is the exact date the card was lost or stolen. It’s so crucial that even knowing the time is important. If you’ve noticed unusual activity on your account, this would be an excellent time to report such suspicions.
Also, try and recall the date and value of your last purchase using the card. One sure way of having accurate information about your purchases is by tracking your expenses. You can track your expenses through the Personal Capital mobile app and save yourself the trouble of guesswork.
Follow Up With a Written Report
After you have made the report and said “I lost my credit card” a couple of times, your nerves will be calmer and you can go ahead and make a written report to back up the telephone report.
Include in the report some extra information like how the credit card was stolen or lost, date of loss, account number, the last authorized transaction, and the date the loss was first reported.
Although not a necessity, such a letter would be proof that you reported the loss of your card, the time of the report and the last authorized transaction. It’s a valuable piece of evidence should such information be brought to question.
What if You Were Traveling Abroad?
Whenever you are traveling, the last thing you want to say is ‘I lost my credit card.’ However, prudent travelers have an easier time handling lost cards than imprudent travelers.
Prudent travelers take time to record the information on credit cards on a separate place.
It’s as simple as taking a photo of the back and front of your credit card and storing it in a safe place. This way you’ll still know where to get telephone numbers of the card issuer and your card details in case you lose your credit card.
Extra-prudent travelers go through the “trouble“ of recording the card issuer’s international number or the local number of the country they are visiting on a separate piece of paper and storing it safely.
When it’s crunch time these numbers come in handy in getting in touch with the card issuer.
But many Americans aren’t that meticulous when it comes to making travel plans.
If that’s you, thank heavens for the internet.
Majority of the major card issuers have this information available on their official websites along with secure card loss reporting links on the website or through mobile apps.
Check your Credit Card statement
Remember to scrutinize your credit card statement after you’ve reported a lost credit card. If you notice any transactions that appear fraudulent or unfamiliar, call your credit card company as soon as possible.
Get to Know More About Your Liability
Scrutinizing your statement for any unauthorized transactions is an exercise often filled with anxiety. It is terrifying to imagine some stranger racking up hundreds or thousands of dollars in purchases on your lost credit card.
But, fortunately, you need not to be nervous; the Federal Trade Commission limits your losses.
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) protects you when fraudulent transactions are made on your lost credit card. The law limits unauthorized charges made with your credit card to a maximum amount of $50.
Moreover, if the transactions happened after you reported the card as lost or stolen, you’ll have nil liability.
Therefore, you can only be liable for unauthorized charges made on your lost credit card to a maximum of $50. That’s if you hadn’t reported it lost. However, if the charges were made after you reported the loss, you won’t be liable for a dime.
Having said that, card issuers also step up and offer a zero-liability fraud protection cover which eliminates your liability for any unauthorized charges as long as the card is reported as lost within a certain time window.
Check with your issuer if your credit card has this feature or how you can apply.
Update Your Recurring Payments Information
Now that you’ve sorted the lost card with your card issuer, the card issuer will give you a new card which has a new number.
This is also a good opportunity to negotiate for a better deal or better rewards on your card. Check out Yourcardsearch for amazing comparisons on credit card offers
That means setting up your recurrent automated payments such as your cable bill with your new credit card number. If you cannot recall all automated payments that were wired from your lost credit card, you can just pick up a statement and mark out such payments.
Then proceed to log in to your accounts (online) and update your details. Alternatively, you can contact the company’s customer service representatives for assistance.
Lastly, Be Careful to Avert Future Loss of a Credit Card
The anxiety and embarrassment that can follow a lost credit card can be unbearable. Unfortunately, such processes must take their due course.
The best way to avert the embarrassment and anxiety is by taking proactive steps to protect your card from loss or thieves. Below are some steps you can take.
- Be conscious of the location of your credit cards at all times.
- Also, use a wallet or purse rather than placing the credit card directly in your pocket or in your bag.
- Keep checking periodically that all your cards are safe in their designated storage spots.
- Include in your emergency or important contact lists the name and telephone contacts of your credit card issuers.
Finally, guard your card as you would your cash. Unauthorized payments are not the worst thing that could happen to you if you’ve lost your credit card. Other serious crimes such as impersonation and counterfeit cards (fraud schemes where the card is not present) can also hit your account. It’s best that you keep your card safely and away from these complex schemes.