If your credit card is lost or stolen, you must act quickly to prevent fraudulent activity. Temporary barriers, fortunately, are quickly becoming an industry standard. If your creditor allows you to deactivate your card temporarily, simply call or go online to block it. If your card is found, turn it back on; otherwise, report it lost or stolen if you haven’t found it within two days. Get a new card with new numbers if necessary. If you are concerned about identity theft, you can also freeze your credit, preventing anyone from opening a new line of credit in your name.
Method 1 Blocking a Card Temporarily
1. Call your creditor or access your account online. Many credit card companies allow customers to temporarily block a lost or stolen card. If your creditor provides this option, go to their website or open your mobile app. You can also contact your creditor and request that a customer service representative make the switch for you.
If you have an online account, you’ll only need to log into the website. If you call customer service, you’ll need to provide your account number along with identifying information, such as your Social Security number.
You can reach Chase at 1-800-935-9935 or visit https://www.chase.com.
Call Capital One at 1-877-383-4802 or go to https://www.capitalone.com.
Call American Express at 1-800-528-4800 or visit https://www.americanexpress.com.
If you have another creditor, look online to find their customer service line.
2. Go to account management and deactivate your credit card. Locate the account or card management section after logging into your online account or mobile app. Look for a link that says something like “Misplaced Card,” “Lock Your Card,” or something similar. When you click the link, you will be taken to a page where you can simply toggle an on/off switch.
3. Report any suspicious activity right away. If your card is lost or stolen, keep an eye on your statements, even if you’ve temporarily blocked it. If you notice any unusual charges, no matter how minor, contact your creditor.
Thieves will frequently make a small purchase to see if you will notice before making a large charge.
4. If you find your card, unblock it. If you find your card in the sofa cushions or under your car seat, you can quickly reactivate it. Log in to your online account or mobile app, or contact customer service. If you’re handling it yourself, toggle the on/off switch, or ask a customer service representative to reactivate your card.
Simply log in to your creditor’s website if you have an online account. When contacting customer service, be sure to include your account number and other identifying information.
5. If you haven’t found your card within two days, report it as lost. Blocking your card temporarily is not a substitute for reporting it as lost or stolen. If it hasn’t arrived within two business days, contact your creditor and inform them that your card is no longer valid. Request a replacement with a new phone number from the representative.
You will not be liable for any losses if you report your lost card before any fraudulent charges are made. If you report it within two business days, you’ll only be responsible for $50 (USD) if the fraudulent charges occurred before you turned off the card. If you wait more than two business days and fraudulent charges are made, you could lose up to $500.
Method 2 Replacing a Lost or Stolen Card
1. Request a new credit card and account number from your creditor. You can contact customer service or report your card as stolen online and request a replacement. Fill out the online form or contact customer service for a replacement. Check to see if your new card will have a new set of numbers.
If you contact customer service, make a note of the name of the person who assists you. Keep a record of their name and the date you called.
2. Inquire if they keep track of merchants who accept recurring payments. Creditors frequently send your updated credit card information to companies that charge you on a regular basis. You won’t have to go through the hassle of contacting each company individually if you used the lost card to pay bills.
If an automatic updater service bothers you, ask a customer service representative if you can turn it off.
If your creditor does not automatically update merchants, you will need to update your recurring payments before your bills are due. To update your billing information, contact utility companies and other companies that charge recurring payments, or log into your accounts on their websites.
3. Send your creditor a written letter. Ask your creditor for a mailing address where you can send a written notice while you’re on the phone. Include your name, address, the old card number, the date your card went missing, the date you requested a replacement, and information about any suspicious transactions in your letter.
For instance, you could write, “I am writing to dispute a $98.24 fraudulent charge on my account on 1/2/2018 at 3:15 p.m. At 4 p.m. on 1/2/2018, I reported this card as lost or stolen over the phone to Jane Doe. I did not make this charge and am requesting that it be removed, my account be credited, and a corrected statement be sent to me.”
A paper trail is created by following up with a written letter. Assume your lost card isn’t deactivated when you request it, and a thief uses it to make fraudulent charges. You’ll have proof that you met your obligations and should not be held liable for the charges.
4. If you need a new card quickly, expedite shipment. You may have to wait anywhere from 24 hours to 10 business days for a new card, depending on your creditor. When you call for a replacement, inquire about the time it will take to arrive. If you require it sooner, contact customer service and request an account number so you can make online purchases, or inquire about rush delivery.
Some companies automatically expedite replacement cards, so you may receive it within two days. Otherwise, you may have to pay up to $30 for overnight or priority shipping.
5. Request to see the findings of your creditor’s investigation. Your creditor will conduct an investigation if any suspicious charges were made within 10 business days. After that period of time, contact them again and inquire about the status of the investigation. Inquire whether or not the results are available, and when they will be.
Creditors are required by law to share their findings with you. While many cases of credit card fraud are out of your control, the information may help you reduce your risk in the future.
Method 3 Freezing Your Credit
1. Instead of a lock, choose a freeze. Credit reporting agencies provide free or low-cost credit locks, which are not the same as credit freezes. A credit lock is simply a contract between you and a credit reporting bureau. While locks and freezes essentially accomplish the same thing, credit freezes are guaranteed by state law, so you will be completely free of financial liability.
You will be legally protected from financial liability if you freeze your credit and someone opens a new line of credit in your name. A credit lock does not provide the same level of legal protection.
A lock contract with the reporting company may also include unfavourable terms. A credit lock agreement, for example, may preclude you from participating in a class action lawsuit if something goes wrong. Freezes do not involve a contractual agreement, and any losses would be borne by the reporting bureau.
Credit freezes and locks have no effect on your credit score.
2. Contact each of the credit reporting agencies. To freeze your credit, you must contact all three national credit reporting companies. Inform the customer service representative that you want your credit to be frozen. Your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and other personal information will be required.
Call Equifax at 1-800-349-9960 or visit https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp.
Call Experian at 1‑888‑397‑3742 or visit https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html.
Call TransUnion at 1-888-909-8872 or visit http://www.transunion.com/freeze.
3. Pay a fee to each reporting company. Fees vary by location and are usually between $5 and $10. Credit freezes are free in some states if you are 65 or older.
4. Send written requests for freezes to each reporting agency. When you’re on the phone with the reporting companies, request a mailing address from each. If you filed online, look for the mailing address that handles freeze requests on their website. Include your name, address, date of birth, and the date of the freeze request.
Include a police report with the letter you send to the reporting companies if you are the victim of identity theft.
A written letter will serve as evidence that you requested a freeze on a specific date. If something goes wrong, such as someone opening a line of credit in your name, having documentation that you exercised due diligence is beneficial. You will be able to demonstrate that you should not be held liable for fraudulent charges as a result of the reporting bureau’s failure to carry out your freeze request.
5. Maintain the security of your confirmation letters and PINs. A written confirmation will be sent by each reporting company. It will include instructions for removing the freeze as well as the PIN required to do so. Keep these documents in a secure location, such as a safe.
6. If you’re applying for new credit, a lease, or a job, you can lift the freeze. A credit freeze prevents anyone from conducting a credit check on you. While some states’ freezes expire after seven years, the vast majority of states’ freezes last indefinitely. If you apply for a new line of credit, job, or apartment lease, you must lift the freeze so that the company can conduct an investigation.
If you’ll be applying for lines of credit, leases, and jobs frequently, you might want to lift your security freezes permanently rather than paying fees to thaw them every few months.
Inquire with a new creditor, leasing company, or potential employer about the credit reporting company they will use to check your credit. That way, you can lift the freeze with just one company rather than having to pay fees for all three.
To remove the freeze, follow the instructions in the confirmation letters. You will call or go online to the reporting company, provide your personal information and PIN, and specify the dates you want the freeze thawed.
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