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What Should I do if my Credit Cards are Stolen?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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When your credit cards are stolen, it can be a traumatizing experience. Aside from the hassle of reissuing the cards, you may also have concerns about unauthorized use of the cards by the thief. If you take a few precautionary measures and combine them with rapid action when your credit cards are stolen, you can prevent financial losses and minimize related difficulties as well.

Most credit bureaus and agencies recommend that consumers make copies of both sides of their credit cards and keep them in a secure place. On each copy, make sure that the card number is visible, and that the emergency phone number to contact the card issuer is listed as well. Make a separate list of these phone numbers and keep copies in your home, office, and vehicle so that it is readily accessible. If your credit cards are stolen, having this information readily on hand will make the situation less stressful.

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The first thing to do when your credit cards are stolen is to report it. Stolen credit cards are used to purchase a large variety of goods, often within minutes of the theft. Therefore, credit card theft is of major concern to credit card companies, who maintain a 24 hour service line to report thefts and unauthorized use. Call this phone number to report the theft and put a stop on your card immediately. Make note of the date and time of your call, along with the person you spoke to, and follow up with a written letter detailing the theft and when it was reported.

If your credit cards are stolen along with your wallet, you have the potential to become a victim of identity theft as well, especially if you carry documents like a driver's license. Make sure that you report the theft of all credit cards and identification to the issuing agency so that rapid action can be taken. It is an excellent idea to make a copy of everything you carry in your wallet, so that if your credit cards are stolen with other objects you can cover all your bases.

After you have called the credit card companies, call the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Report the theft to these agencies so that they can put a hold on your credit, which will allow you to more easily clear it if unauthorized transactions take place. Once you have reported the theft here, get in touch with local law enforcement as well.

Two laws protect you if your credit cards are stolen: the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA). The FCBA states that you cannot be liable for more than 50 US Dollars (USD) of unauthorized transactions, and usually less if the theft is reported immediately, or if the transaction involved the card number but not the physical card. The EFTA applies to transfers of funds and Automatic Teller Machine withdrawals. It will not hold you liable for more than 50 USD if you report the theft within 48 hours, but could hold you responsible for up to 500 USD if the theft is reported after that time.

When your credit cards are stolen, make sure to scrutinize the bills carefully for several months afterwards. Report any suspicious or unauthorized transactions immediately to have them removed from your statement. It is also an excellent idea to order a copy of your credit report to check for suspicious activity: if something on your credit report looks wrong, contact the bureau to have it cleared.

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anon143458
Post 4

Some banks like Comerica have a less than desirable fraud detection algorithm! I had to call the bank and alert them to fraud. I checked my account while paying bills and two purchases were made at two different walmarts 800 miles away simultaneously and no red flags went off.

Funny thing is, I made a legitimate purchase at a walmart at the same time two miles from my billing address. The current state of credit card security is ridiculous. Do not depend on your bank or credit card company to detect fraud. Take that into your own hands!

The security controls at major retail stores like walmart have been compromised for convenience. One can walk through self checkout with a

card they printed off with your number and never have to show a single form of identification. They could even use a blank card with no print and a mag stripe and carry the fraud out undetected. Our society is convenience driven so security is not there.
Bhutan
Post 3

SurfNturf- I also noticed that if I make purchases outside my normal pattern, the credit card company will call me to make sure I was using the credit card.

This happened to me once, when I was going on a cruise and purchased a lot of clothes. I am glad that credit card companies are becoming more vigilant with credit card theft.

surfNturf
Post 2

Crispety-I know that when placing phone orders, many companies ask for the security code to make sure that the valid cardholder is making the transaction.

This might be a result of too much identity theft with credit card numbers. This extra layer of protection is helpful.

Crispety
Post 1

I want to add that sometimes your credit card number could be stolen someone actually taking your card.

Most companies only print your credit card numbers showing the last four digits for your protection, but what about the companies that use a manual machine in which the employee imprints the credit card including the complete number on the form?

The reason that I mention this is that I had my credit card number stolen in this fashion. The employee used my credit card number to make online purchases.

So if you see companies that use this type of machine to record transactions, be careful and use cash instead.

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