Maybe you’re in line about to pay for something when you realize your credit card is missing. Or maybe you’re online shopping on your computer and you realize you’ve just entered your information into a suspicious looking or fake website. While your first instinct is likely to panic, there are steps you can take to protect yourself (and your credit score) when you have a lost credit card.
Check Recent Transactions
If you’ve only just noticed your lost credit card problem now, a good first step is to log into your online banking account and check to see if any transactions look out of place. If there is anything off, take a screenshot or make a note of it somewhere.
Call Your Bank ASAP
Next you’re going to have to call your bank and/or Credit Card Company IMMEDIATELY. You usually have 30 days to report any suspicious activity in your account and 2 days to report your card missing. If you make sure to do both, you should not be on the hook for any fraudulent transactions made in your name by someone else.
If you have any other accounts with the bank, you’ll able to find the emergency 24 hour hotline number listed directly on the back of the card. Another option is to find an old bill (which will also list any emergency numbers) or go to the bank’s website (be absolutely sure you’re on the right site, though – look for a secured symbol and a web address with an https:// in front of it before calling and passing on any sensitive information).
Your bank will be able to cancel your lost credit card and put a warning in your file so any incoming transactions will be blocked. They will also issue you a new card/new card number that should arrive in the mail shortly. The sooner you call the better; by notifying your bank, you are taking control of the situation and accountability for your finances.
When you call have your account number handy, as well as the date you noticed your card was missing and the date and amount of your last purchase. If your card is missing or has been stolen and you don’t have access to an old bill, your bank can usually look up your account for you by having you verify your identity through other means.
Destroy Cheques and Other Cards With Same Account Number
Make sure to destroy any other cards or cheques with the same account number as the now canceled lost credit card, and if you use automatic banking, be sure to change any accounts associated with your old number.
Keep Note of Everything
Make note of the time and date that you called your bank, as well as a summary of the information you provided over the phone. If you’d like to be extra diligent, you can also send your bank a letter outlining everything you explained in the phone call (keep a photocopy of your letter for your own files as well).
Let the Police Know
While this isn’t mandatory, if your card was stolen or you know that fraudulent purchases have been made with your card, you should also file a police report. By going directly to the authorities, you can speed up the process of finding whoever stole your card and you get the peace of mind of knowing you’re doing absolutely everything you can on your end to take control of the situation.
Call Credit Bureaus
If Fraudulent charges have already occurred, you absolutely have to call your credit bureau as well and have them put a fraud alert on your profile. In Canada, the two main credit bureaus are Equifax and TransUnion; call them both (and while you’re at it, request a copy of your credit report to ensure there are no other errors or fraudulent instances present.)
Practice Caution in Future
It’s difficult to prevent credit card theft or having your card go missing, but there are a couple of things you can do to make this process easier for yourself should it happen again in future.
Make a photocopy of your credit cards (front and back) and keep them in a safe place should your card go missing again in future. It will make it easier to report them missing.
Don’t keep too many cards in your wallet that you don’t actually need or use all that often. The more cards you have on your person, the more chances you have of losing them and having your identity stolen or used to make fraudulent purchases.
Be extra vigilant when making online purchases; check that the website is secured, safe, and official before entering any information. Consider creating a PayPal account to give yourself more peace of mind.
Lastly, remember to check your credit transactions at least once a week. The sooner you spot something suspicious, the sooner you can get control over the situation.