Inside: Dealing with credit or debit card theft can be frustrating. Find out what to do if it happens to you.
You are at the checkout stand trying to pay for your groceries but your card is being declined. And yet you know there is no way you’ve come anywhere near the limit. After a panicked phone call, the credit card company tells you they want to confirm some recent unusual charges. The problem is, you didn’t make those charges.
Your credit card info has been stolen.
Whether you lost your card, hackers get hold of your information, or your credit or debit cards are physically stolen, there are certain steps to take to ensure your cards are disabled and you are back on your feet quickly with replacements. Here is what you need to do if your debit or credit card is lost or stolen:
Report the theft promptly
As soon as you notice or realize your card or account has been compromised, call the issuer immediately. They can suspend your account and issue a new card. The new card will have a new number, but it shouldn’t be treated as opening a new account as far as your credit report is concerned.
After you call the issuer, sit down and write a letter. The letter should include the date you noticed the card missing, when you reported it, and your account number. Many banks and credit card companies require written notification within 60 days in order to waive fees and charges.
When you report the loss, a few things happen.
If you report it before any fraudulent charges are made, you are liable for nothing. Credit cards may hold you responsible for up to $50 of unauthorized charges that are made before the loss is reported, but some may waive the fee. If the credit card number rather than the card itself was stolen, then you are not liable for any unauthorized charges. This could happen if hackers obtained account information from payment kiosks or by stealing payment info from vendors.
Bank cards like ATM or debit cards are a little different. Similar to credit cards, if you report the loss before unauthorized charges are made, you won’t be held liable for any charges. Reporting after charges are made means:
- Report within 2 days of the loss, you could be responsible for up to $50.
- If you report more than 2 days of the loss but less than 60 days after the statement was sent, you could be responsible for up to $500.
- Waiting longer than 60 days after your statement is sent would mean you are responsible for all charges to your account.
Check your statements!
Related: How to Fix Your Credit, Gimmick-Free
Update contact information
After you report your card lost or stolen, check your account information to ensure the issuer has your current phone number and address. If your online account was accessed, also change your password and security questions.
Update auto-pay accounts
You have just reported your card missing, so it can no longer be used. Find the accounts that use the card for auto-pay. Update them with a new card or account number to avoid late charges or lose service.
Review your statements closely for the next few months and ensure the unauthorized charges were reversed. One to three months afterward, also get a copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Related post: What is a Credit Report?
Having someone steal your credit card or account information is frustrating, but is something that you can recover from.
Have you had to deal with this?