Your credit card getting in the wrong hands can spell big trouble. When your card is stolen, a complete stranger essentially has the power to put you in financial ruin with a few swipes of the card. It’s a very scary situation to be in but one that is all too common.
I was the victim of a stolen credit card once. I had picked up food at a small restaurant in my neighborhood and left my card there without noticing. I didn’t realize my card was missing until a couple days later while I was at a store trying to buy something else. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I would just report it lost and request a new card. To my dismay, I was already too late. Someone had stolen my card and gone on a shopping spree. They even filled up at a gas station.
I was angry and upset, as anyone would be when something personal is stolen from them. If you find yourself in a similar situation, what you do next is critical to your financial health going forward. You might not be able to get your card back but you can help protect your credit and finances. Here are 5 steps you should take if your credit card is stolen:
Contact your credit card company immediately
The obvious first step is to call your credit card company immediately and report this as soon as you realize that the credit card is missing. This way, you won’t be responsible for any unauthorized charges after that point. Count yourself lucky if your card hasn’t gotten in the wrong hands yet, but your credit card company will walk through recent charges with you in case you didn’t make them yourself.
Review your credit card statement
You should thoroughly review your credit card statement, especially recent charges. Make sure you personally authorized each and every single one. If you haven’t, report them to the credit card company. They may be able to remove the charge, depending on the nature of it.
Place a fraud alert on your credit report
You should also want to reach out to the three national credit reporting companies, and ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report. This will make it very difficult for anyone to open a new account in your name. The three reporting companies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Check your credit report
Get a copy of your credit report while you are speaking to one of these three credit reporting companies, as you are entitled to one free report. Review the details carefully to see if there are any unauthorized account openings or changes.
Stay alert and be vigilant
With the steps above, you’re putting yourself in a safer and better position if your credit card is stolen. It’s important, however, to stay alert and be vigilant. A lost credit card can spiral out of control very quickly if you don’t act swiftly. Even after you’ve taken the necessary steps to fix the situation, you should always monitor your accounts regularly just to be safe.
Having your card stolen is an unfortunate situation, but don’t make the situation worst by being lazy. Have you ever had your cards stolen? What did you do?