You’ve looked everywhere, and you still can’t find your credit or debit card. Now you’re worried about fraudulent charges, and you’re eager to take action to avoid dealing with charges that aren’t yours. Don’t panic. We’ve come up with a quick list of four things to do immediately if you’ve misplaced a credit or debit card:
1. Notify the Card Issuer. One of the first things you should do is contact the card issuer about the situation. Be sure to note the date and time you noticed the card was missing.
If you don’t have the company’s number, you can find it on your billing statement or online. The company will cancel your old card and issue you a new one, although it may take a few days to arrive by mail. If you need it sooner, some companies may be able to rush shipment, but be sure to ask about extra charges that may be associated with expediting a request.
2. Lock or Temporarily Disable Your Card. A growing number of credit and debit card issuers are introducing features that allow users to lock their card or temporarily disable it. This will give you time to keep looking if you aren’t quite ready to replace your card.
3. Recurring Transactions. If you’ve replaced your card, be sure to contact businesses you have recurring transactions with to avoid missing any payments. Interesting fact (we checked!): Some credit card companies don’t require that you provide them with updated card information, and will honor recurring payments on the old card even if it is replaced.
4. Future Billing Statements. For the next few months, closely examine your billing statements for any unauthorized purchases. If you find any, report those to your card issuer.
Finally, it’s important to know that you have rights. In fact, you’re protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, a federal law limiting your liability to $50 if anyone makes fraudulent credit card charges, if the card loss or theft is reported to the card issuer. If the card is reported as lost or stolen before charges are made, you have zero liability. In addition, many credit card issuers offer a zero liability policy in case of fraud.
If it's a debit card you've misplaced, your liability is $50 if you report the loss or theft within two business days of discovering it -- and zero if you report the card lost or stolen before any charges are made. The Federal Trade Commission has more on lost or stolen credit or debit cards.