By Eric Bank
A lost or stolen credit card requires you to take immediate action in order to minimize the negative fallout. A rapid response can reduce the damage and save you much precious time repairing your credit record.
Follow these top three tips if your credit card becomes compromised:
Contact the issuer to get a replacement card. The card issuer will deactivate your card immediately, preventing anyone else from using it. This removes any liability for subsequent use of the card. Your liability is only $50 if you report the loss or theft within two business days of becoming aware of it. The maximum liability rises to $500 if you delay reporting the problem for longer. If you go 60 days without contacting the issuer, you will be responsible for all losses. Upon contact, the card issuer will confirm with you all the recent card charges so that you don’t have to pay for ones you didn’t make.If you are married or otherwise share your credit card account with another person, tell that person not to use the card until its replaced. Follow up with the card issuer by sending an email recapping all of the pertinent information. If you were unfortunate enough to lose your purse or wallet containing several credit cards, you’ll have your work cut out for you. That’s why you should always keep records on-hand of all your credit card accounts and the issuers’ contact information. Better yet, many card issuers and other firms can provide you with a service to manage the loss of multiple credit cards. If you have a history of losing things (and even if you don’t), this option may be well worth it. In any case, the card issuer will dispatch a new card to you right away – you can even ask for overnight shipment. Don’t forget to examine your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance and verify whether it covers losses from a compromised card. Once you receive your new card, go on to Step
Update payment instructions for automatic withdrawals. Many people link up their credit cards to automatically cover monthly bills, such as utilities, rent, subscriptions, cable TV, insurance payments and so forth. You’ll have to go to each payee’s website and change the credit card information -- a new account number, security code and possibly the expiration date. In addition, update any personal financial software (such as Quicken or Money) that maintains your credit card information and transactions.
Check your credit reports and FICO scores. The longer you wait to report a credit card’s loss, the greater the likelihood that someone will use the card illegally. This can result in damaging misinformation appearing on your credit reports and lowering your credit scores. Upon learning your credit card was compromised, contact annualcreditreport.com and request your three free credit reports. You might have to cough up an extra fee get your three FICO scores. Verify all the information on the credit reports carefully and immediately notify the credit bureaus of any sham activity related to your compromised credit card. This process is a lot smoother than it used to be, now that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created new rules and closely oversees the credit bureaus’ handling of consumer requests.