Lost Your Credit Card? Here's What You Need to Do Now
Take a breath. Don't have a panic attack. Follow these steps to get back on track.
July 22, 2021
We’ve all experienced that heart-stopping moment when you realize your credit card is not where you thought it would be. Whether you misplaced it temporarily, actually lost it or know it was stolen, the panic and stress that comes along with losing a credit card isn’t fun. While we wish you could snap your fingers and go back in time to stop the loss from happening, the best we can do is walk you through what to do if you lose your credit card. Knowing exactly what steps you need to take will help make the whole situation a lot less stressful.
Step 1. Report the Lost Card A.S.A.P.
Figuring out what to do when you lose your card, whether you lost it or it was stolen, starts the same. Either way, you’ll want to report the lost card to your credit card issuer immediately, no matter what time of day it is when you realize your credit card is gone. Most credit card issuers have a toll-free number you can call at any time to report the loss of your credit card. One of the reasons it’s so important to act quickly here is because federal law states you can’t be held responsible for any unauthorized transactions that happen after you report the loss.
Step 2. Check For Fraud
When you call your credit card issuer to report the lost credit card, you’ll work with the issuer to determine if there are any charges on your credit card that you didn’t authorize. Check your online credit card transaction list closely for any unauthorized charges. Alongside reviewing your credit card statement, you’ll want to take a close look at your credit reports to make sure no new credit accounts have been opened in your name without your authorization. If you discover any fraudulent activity on your credit report, you should contact the credit bureau that issued the report to remedy the error.
Step 3. Freeze or Deactivate Your Credit Card and Credit
When you get in touch with your credit card issuer, you’ll want to freeze your credit card. Even if you think you may have just misplaced your card and need time to look for it, it’s a good idea to freeze it in case someone else finds and uses the card first. Freezing a credit card ensures no one can use the card to make any new charges or balance transfers. However, any recurring payments you set up previously will continue to process. That means any bills you have on autopay will continue to be paid on time.
If you know your card has been stolen or really is lost and unfindable, you’ll want to deactivate the credit card. Reporting the card as stolen or permanently lost to your credit card issuer will kick off a helpful series of events. The old credit card will become invalid and you’ll receive a new credit card.
You may also want to consider freezing your credit report (note this is different from freezing a credit card) to help avoid identity theft. If your credit card has been stolen and you believe you’re a victim of fraud or identity theft, freezing your credit reports makes it so no one can open a new credit account in your name. It’s free to freeze your credit at the three main credit bureaus — Experian, Transunion and Equifax.
Step 4. Know Your Rights
When dealing with a lost credit card, it’s important to understand what your rights are under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA). Under the FCBA, the most you’re liable for when it comes to unauthorized credit card charges is $50. If you report the loss before the credit card is used illegally, you’re not responsible for any charges at all. If just your credit card number is stolen — not the physical card — you aren’t liable for any unauthorized charges at any point.
Step 5. File a Police Report if Necessary
Determining what to do if you lose your credit card will depend on if your card was innocently misplaced or if it was stolen. If your credit card was stolen, you’ll need to file a police report. A stolen credit card is a serious matter and can lead to bigger issues than unauthorized charges like identity theft. Filing a police report is an especially important step to take if your whole wallet was stolen and the thief has access not only to your credit card, but identification that reveals your legal name, date of birth and address.
Step 6. Get a New Card
Your credit card issuer will typically deactivate your card and mail you a replacement card with a new account number. It can take around three to seven business days to receive a new credit card in the mail unless you request an expedited replacement. If you use your credit card for any automatic payments, you’ll need to update those accounts with the new credit card information. It can be helpful to keep a running list of which credit cards you use for recurring payments. That way, if you do ever lose a credit card, you know exactly which accounts need updating.
Step 7. Create Good Credit Card Habits
After dealing with the stress of having a lost or stolen credit card, you’ll probably want to do whatever you can to avoid a similar situation from occurring in the future. Accidents will always happen, but consider taking the following steps to avoid losing your credit card and to make the cleanup process easier if you do ever lose it.
• List it. Keep an up-to-date list of all of your current active credit cards, what accounts they are linked to, and what the 24-hour customer service number for each card is. Store this list digitally in a secure file so you can access it from your phone on the go.
• Be selective. There’s little need to carry multiple credit cards on your person. If you have more than one credit card, consider keeping some cards at home so that if your wallet is lost or stolen, you have a backup credit card at home that you can use while waiting for the replacement to arrive. Plus, you’ll have fewer cards to deactivate and worry about this way.
• Know your card benefits. How much fraud protection does your credit card offer? Does your issuer provide free expedited delivery of replacement cards? Familiarize yourself with how your issuer handles lost credit cards, so you know what to expect if an emergency does arise.
Looking to escape credit card stress? Consider using Tally, an automated credit card payoff app that can help you pay down your high-interest credit card debt faster with a low-interest line of credit.