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5 Things You Need to Do When You Lose Your Credit Card

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You’re digging through your wallet to find a credit card, and realize it’s missing. At that moment, you’re not just bothered by the inconvenience of needing to use a different payment method, you’re also worried about the hassle of replacing your card and possibly dealing with fraudulent charges.

But look at the bright side: American credit card users are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which limits their liability to $50 in the event of a fraudulent transaction, and in practice, nearly every credit card issuer waives this amount by offering a zero liability policy. In contrast, losses resulting from stolen cash, checks or debit cards can be much harder, or simply impossible, to recover.

Still, when you are unable to locate your credit card, be sure to take these five steps.

1. Try to Track Down Your Card

When you lose your keys or nearly any other possession, there’s often no reliable way to find out where you last used it. But with a credit card, you can easily find out the location of your last charge by viewing your online account or calling the card issuer. Next, contact the merchant and see if they found your card and are holding it for you.

2. See If Your Card Can Be Temporarily Deactivated

Last year, Discover introduced a “Freeze it” feature that allows its cardholders to temporarily suspend use of their card. This is a great option for people who can’t locate their card, but aren’t ready to declare it permanently lost. Soon, holders of some Visa cards will also have access to a similar function as part of the new “Visa Consumer Transaction Controls,” a set of tools being offered this year to card issuers. If your card has one of these features, you can use it to prevent potential fraud while you search for your card.

3. Accept the Loss & Contact Your Issuer

Once you’ve checked with the last merchant where your card was used, and searched far and wide to find your card, it’s time to declare it lost and move on. Start by contacting your card issuer to report the card lost, and to request a new one. Thankfully, nearly all banks and credit unions will offer customers free replacement cards, sometimes by overnight mail. If you need to have your card replaced as soon as possible, be sure to request expedited overnight delivery, but also ask if there’s any extra charge for this service.

4. Contact Merchants That Have Your Credit Card on File

One of the most arduous tasks you will face after losing your credit card is to update any merchants that use your credit card for recurring transactions or monthly bill pay. If you don’t give these vendors your new card number, expiration date and/or CVV code, you may miss a payment. And that missed payment could ultimately wind up hurting your credit score, should the account go to collections. (You can see if any collection accounts are hurting your credit scores by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

5. Scrutinize Your Statements

Just because you’ve reported your credit card lost or stolen, it doesn’t mean that you are out of the woods yet. In the coming months, you should be extra careful to closely examine your credit card statements for any unauthorized charges. If you find anything suspicious, be sure to report the charge to your credit card issuer. Remember, the Fair Credit Billing Act can only protect you from fraudulent charges when they are reported to your credit card issuer.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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