I hope you are not reading this because you have lost a credit card, or had one stolen. Remember the old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”! In order to prevent the loss or theft of your credit card(s):
* Be aware of your card’s whereabouts at all times
* Carry only the credit cards that you’ll need
* Keep your cards in a safe and secure place
* Avoid putting loose credit cards into your pockets: they can easily slip out.
* Make sure your cards fit snugly inside your wallet. If the slots have become loose or worn, buy a new wallet!
* Create a contact list including the name and number of all your card issuers. Store the list in a safe place.
* Photocopy both sides of all your credit (and other) cards: keep this photocopy in a separate, safe place. Do this whenever you receive a new card.
If you do have a card stolen or lost:
REPORT THE LOSS OR THEFT IMMEDIATELY to your provider’s 24-hour Customer Service line: advisers will cancel your card(s) and issue replacements immediately. The telephone number it’s usually a free call – is printed on your monthly statements. You will be liable for a maximum of $50 per card (50 in the UK) if you report the loss before your credit cards are used. If you delay, you may end up paying more.
Take notes of your phone call, and follow up with a letter. Summarize the conversation, including your name, account number, when your card went missing, the date you reported the loss, and the name of the person you spoke with. Keep a copy for yourself.
You could purchase a credit card registration service for an annual fee: with this service, you have to make only one phone call to report all card losses (rather than calling each individual issuer). Many services also will request replacement credit cards on your behalf. These services can be expensive, so shop around. It is vital to keep your information up to date with the registration service.
CALL THE THREE NATIONAL CREDIT-REPORTING AGENCIES to report the theft, and ask them to attach a ‘fraud alert’ to all your credit cards. Here are the numbers:
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
CALL THE POLICE in the area where your card was stolen to report the theft.
CHECK YOUR INSURANCE POLICY: any unauthorized transactions may be covered by your home insurance. If they are, file a claim immediately.
WATCH YOUR ACCOUNT CAREFULLY: keep a close watch over your statements. If you can access your statements online, do so immediately and print off a hard copy. If you have been keeping your receipts for all your purchase (you should have been!) make sure you recall purchasing each item. If you come across anything that you can’t remember buying, contact your credit card company. Remind them of your previous calls to report the loss or theft.