The moment you realize that you have lost your credit card is a terrifying and heart stopping moment. You know that anyone out there can be ringing up purchases, stealing your identity, and ruining your credit without concern for your wellbeing. Everything that you have been careful to protect is now in jeopardy as someone else is having a lot of fun with your name attached to it.
The very first step is calling and cancelling the credit card. However, don’t just cancel the credit card, speak to a customer service representative and explain what has happened, as some credit card companies require various forms to be filled out or have specific procedures for exactly this type of occasion. A lot of credit card companies are now offering theft protection and identity protection. Anyone who has lost a credit card in the past knows the value of credit card with your photograph on it or some other failsafe protection.
Credit card companies are usually pretty understanding about the loss or theft of a credit card, however every now and then it is possible to get a customer service representative on the phone who doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. If you are not satisfied with the potential outcome of your conversation with the credit card company, do not hesitate to ask to speak to a superior or someone with a little more authority. This can often produce faster, more pleasing results.
If your credit card is part of your bank account, and it is after hours, there are typically online remedies which can assist you in closing down your account until you can get to a person who can help you. Of course you did opt for the online checking program when you opened your account, didn’t you?
Some banks have emergency phone numbers that you can call in the event of a lost or stolen credit card. It typically comes with the paperwork that you receive when you either opened the account or when you upgraded or changed your card for any reason. Most banks also have an automated telephone system that will allow you to report a stolen credit card. This may not shut down your account, it may only make it possible for you to recoup the money which has been drained. This is not very helpful if it is Saturday evening and you are away for the weekend. Unfortunately, cards which are attached to a bank account are the most vulnerable. Unless you can get to a real live person, you can’t reason with technology, and by the time the bank opens up on Monday morning, you may very well have been wiped out of everything in your checking account. Many banks offer reimbursement for stolen card purchases, but they do not always have the best security when it comes to allowing you to immediately cease all charges to the account the same way a credit card company will.
Of course, it is possible to have the card in your hand and still have someone else out there hijacking your hard earned cash. Internet transactions can be equally as devastating as actually losing the card, as often you won’t know about it until either your bank account has been wiped out or your credit card is declined even though you only carry a $1000 balance on a $20,000 credit card.
Once you have lost your credit card and have had to go through the hassles of cancelling the card and negotiating with the bank or credit card company over legitimate and illegitimate charges, you are likely to find alternative methods of dealing with financial transactions, especially while on vacation or a romantic weekend get away. Traveler’s cheques and other forms of replaceable currencies will become much more appealing. At the very least, losing your credit card at home won’t leave you stranded somewhere without the funds to get back home.
To prevent the theft or use of a lost credit card, most credit card companies do offer some form of protection, and it is perfectly legal to write the words “see I.D.” on the back of a credit card instead of signing it. However, my own credit card says that and perhaps one out of every twenty purchases does anyone ever ask to see my identification. Regardless, should my lost credit card be used, the clerk who permitted the sale to go through then becomes liable for the purchases, as quite obviously they never checked for identification.
Knowing how to protect yourself against the loss of a credit card, or at the very least against the use of a lost credit card, can go a long way in protecting your finances and even your credit. Once you have experienced the nightmare of what it means to have lost your credit card, you will certainly make sure you never lose a credit card again, even if that means swimming in the ocean with it in your hand.