Losing a credit card can lead to all kinds of problems, especially if you don’t act quickly. Whether it’s lost or stolen, a credit card out of your control could be used to ring up fraudulent charges or even steal your identity, both of which could leave you with a bigger credit card bill to pay.
More than 133,000 people filed reports with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2017 stating their personal information was misused on a credit card account or was used to open a new one, according to an FTC report.
The first thing you should do if your credit card is lost or stolen is call the issuer and report it missing. The sooner you report it missing, the more you’ll be protected from fraudulent charges and your information being used by an identity thief.
Under federal law, if you report a credit card as missing before it’s fraudulently used, you’re not responsible for any unauthorized charges; however, if a card is used by a thief before you report it missing, you could be responsible for some of those charges. The maximum liability amount is $50 under federal law, although some credit cards offer zero liability. If your card wasn’t stolen, but your credit card number was, you aren’t liable for any unauthorized charges.
How to Report a Missing Card
Your credit card statement has instructions on how to report a missing card. Most companies have 24-hour, toll-free numbers. If your spouse has the same credit card, the phone number will be on the back of their card.
Call your issuer as soon as you realize your card is missing. Even if you think you might have misplaced it, you can still call your credit card company and ask them to suspend charges immediately (but temporarily) until you can determine if the card is really missing or if you’ve left it in the car or find it elsewhere.
Once you’ve determined that the card is gone, file a report by phone and follow the credit card company’s instructions. Also, be sure to follow up with a letter to the company, providing your account number, date you noticed the card missing, and the date you filed the report. The Federal Trade Commission recommends keeping a copy of your letter and sending the letter by certified mail with a return receipt.
You should also check your card statement carefully for transactions you didn’t make and report them to your card issuer as quickly as possible. After you’ve reported a missing card, your card issuer will send you a new card, usually within a few days and sometimes overnight.
If you have automatic payments tied to your credit card, such as for a phone bill, you will want to either call your creditors or go online and update your accounts.