If you've experienced that sunken feeling that comes with losing a credit card, the most important thing you can do is to avoid panicking.
Whether you think someone has stolen your wallet or you've simply misplaced your card and can't find it, there are some steps you can take to limit any potential fraud that could occur. And the sooner you start taking those steps, the better.
Take these five steps to limit your vulnerability to fraud, cancel your card and get a new one:
1. Double-Check That You've Actually Lost the Card
Dealing with a lost credit card can be a lot of work, so you'll want to take a second look to make sure you really can't find it.
Make sure, for example, that you didn't accidentally put your card in your coat pocket or directly in your purse rather than back in your wallet. Check your car to see if it slipped in the crack between your seat and the middle console.
Think about where you were when you last saw the card and what you were doing at the time. Physically, or even mentally, retracing your steps can help you remember where it might have been left.
If you know that it's been stolen, however, you can skip to the next step.
2. Call Your Credit Card Issuer
Before you do anything else, it's essential that you make it impossible for anyone to use your lost credit card. You can do this by calling your credit card issuer and requesting that they cancel the card and issue you a new one.
If you have a Chase credit card, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you can quickly freeze your account through the issuer's mobile app or your online account. But you'll still need to call customer service to take other steps to ask them to close the card and replace it with a new one.
To get to the right people, call the phone number on your latest credit card statement, or look up the best number through your online account. (It's a good idea to program the customer service numbers for all your credit cards into your phone, in case something like this happens in the future.)
When you call your card issuer, you'll need to provide some personal information to prove your identity. The issuer may ask for one or more of the following:
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
The customer service representative will also ask when you noticed the card missing and if there are any unauthorized charges you want to flag as fraudulent. They may even list off a few of your recent charges and ask if you recognize them.
When you're on the phone, ask if the issuer can expedite your new card. While some charge extra fees for overnight shipping, others may offer fast delivery of a replacement card for free.
3. Learn About Your Liability
It can be terrifying to picture someone racking up hundreds or thousands of dollars in purchases on your lost credit card. But, fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission limits your losses.
Once you've reported your lost credit card, you're not liable for any purchases someone else may make with it. If someone made fraudulent purchases on the card before you reported it, your total liability is $50 per card.
That said, many credit card issuers have zero-liability fraud protection, so you may not even have to cover the legally-allowable amount. What's more, the credit card issuer may issue a temporary credit for the amount of the unauthorized charges while it investigates, so that you don't need to worry about paying for it.
4. Update Your Recurring Payment Information
Since your current credit card number may be compromised, your card issuer will typically issue a new card with a new number.
This means that if you have automatic payments set up with that card, such as your cable bill or your Spotify subscription, you'll need to update each account with your new credit card number.
The best way to do this is to review your credit card statements from the last few months and flag all of your recurring transactions. Once you get your new card, log in to your online accounts or call the merchant to give them your new information.
Also, don't forget recurring charges that are infrequent, including semi-annual premiums for car insurance and annual membership fees. The last thing you want is to have a gap of insurance coverage or lose membership access long after you've forgotten about the issue.
5. Prevent a Future Lost Credit Card
There's no foolproof way to prevent ever losing a credit card again, but there are some things you can do to reduce the chances:
- Use a mobile payment wallet. Mobile payment wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay eliminate the need to carry a credit card everywhere you go. Once you add your card to your mobile wallet, you can use it at retailers that accept mobile payments. What's more, your transactions are more secure than if you were to swipe your credit card.
- Keep your cards in one place. Every time you use your credit card, put it back in your purse or wallet when you're done. This is especially important if you get the card out at home to make a purchase online. It can be easy to set the card down on the couch next to you or the table and forget about it.
- Make sure your cards are secure. If you have an old wallet, the slots of your wallet may be worn and loose, allowing your cards to fall out if you're not careful. If your cards aren't snug in your wallet, considering buying a new one.
- Keep your cards close to you. Credit card fraud can happen at any time, and you may even fall victim to someone you know. To prevent others from stealing your credit cards, keep your wallet or purse close to you to limit the danger.
- Keep a list of contact numbers for your card issuers and recurring charges. If you do have a lost credit card again in the future, you can deal with the issue faster if you don't have to search for the right phone numbers. Keep a list on your phone or in your wallet or purse, and start calling as soon as possible.
If you lose a credit card and someone else uses it, you may not lose any money. But you will have to deal with the stress and inconvenience of contacting the card issuer and merchants. So take proactive steps to prevent a lost credit card.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.