A lost or stolen credit card can be frustrating and nerve-racking, but it’s crucial to act quickly and before too much damage is potentially done. As soon as you know that your credit card is gone, be sure to do the following as soon as possible:
Contact your card issuer
The first thing you’ll want to do as soon as you notice your credit card is missing is contact the issuer. You can find their customer service phone number by visiting their website, which will usually provide phone numbers that can allow you to reach someone 24 hours a day. The credit card will be canceled right away, and that credit card number will no longer be valid, either. At that point, nobody will be able to use that credit card and you will be sent a new card in the mail, which will have a new account number. You’ll also want to verify any recent transactions while you’re on the phone with someone. If something sounds suspicious, you should also be able to dispute the charges.
Send a follow-up letter
As soon as you hang up with the customer service representative, it’s a good idea to also put everything in writing and send it via email or postal mail. You’ll want to include details, such as what happened to your credit card and the date and time you realized it was missing. You’ll also to include your credit card number, and if possible, the name of the person you spoke to on the phone when you called to cancel it. Although everything should be in order after you make that phone call, sending a letter simply offers you extra protection, just in case the person you spoke to forgot to actually cancel your credit card and there was additional fraudulent activity as a result.
Carefully go through your credit card statement
As soon as you receive your credit card statement, go through it carefully to ensure that everything looks correct. If there are any fraudulent charges that weren’t disputed already that are showing up on your statement, contact your card issuer right away and report the transactions.
Notify one of the credit reporting bureaus
Contact Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax and inform them that you had to cancel a credit card because it was lost/stolen. Notifying one of the bureaus is sufficient, because once one is notified, the other two are automatically notified as well. You can then ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report, which can help prevent identity theft and other fraudulent activity. If you lost your entire wallet and other sensitive information was compromised, such as your Social Security number, it’s especially important to do this to stop someone from applying for credit in your name. When a consumer has an active fraud alert on his or her credit report, no other loans or credit card accounts can be opened.
Check your credit report
Make sure that everything looks normal on your credit report by ordering a free copy and checking through everything carefully. If there are accounts you don’t recognize or charges that don’t make sense, you’ll want to dispute them immediately. They could be errors, or they could be the result of your missing credit card. Without thoroughly checking your credit report, it’s possible to become a victim of identity theft, and you might not know it until too much damage has been done.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.