5 Crucial Things To Do After Losing Your Credit Cards
Losing your credit card for any reason means that you need to jump into action immediately if you want to prevent identity fraud from occurring. It doesn’t matter if you’ve misplaced the cards, or if your purse or wallet was stolen. The bottom line is you do not know where the cards happen to be, and that means someone else could have them. Here are five steps you should take to protect your identity and your financial wellbeing.
Notify All Credit Card Providers
The first thing to do is contact each of your credit card providers and alert them to the fact that you are no longer in possession of those cards. When you make those calls, you can expect each of the providers to take the following actions:
- The service rep will quickly access your account and ask about the most recent transactions. This is necessary to determine if any unauthorized activity has already taken place.
- Your account will be closed to any further purchases for the moment. Once this is done, the cards are essentially useless and you will not have to worry about any more charges.
- A new card with a new number will be issued immediately and sent to the mailing address you have on file. Some providers do offer expedited processing and shipment if requested.
Call the Major Credit Reporting Agencies
After you speak with each of your card providers, the next step is to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies. While your open accounts are now secure, that does not mean a thief cannot use the data to open new accounts in your name. This is where notifying the credit bureaus personally will come in very handy.
Each of the major bureaus will implement what is known as a fraud alert. You will be notified of any inquiries related to applications for new cards. While technically each of the agencies are obligated to contact the other two in regard to fraud alerts, don’t contact one and consider the job done. Contact each one yourself and make sure the alerts are in place.
Report the Possible Theft to Local Authorities
If your wallet or purse is missing, that is a good indication that theft has taken place. Report the theft just as you would do with any other crime. Having the report on file may come in handy later on if you file claims to help recover any losses incurred as the result of the theft.
Order Copies of Your Credit Reports
You are entitled to a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the major agencies. In the weeks after the cards go missing, order reports from each of those agencies. Your goal is to see what types of inquiries have been made since the cards were lost or stolen. With a little luck, you will see no recent activity, other than the addition of the fraud alerts.
Review Credit Card Activity
Whether you receive statements through the post or review account activity online, pay close attention to all the transactions that show up in the detail. If anything seems to be out of line, notify the card provider at once. While your earlier notification should eliminate any attempts at unauthorized usage, errors can take place. Monitor the activity for at least a couple of billing cycles and you should be fine.
Identity theft is a serious matter that can lead to negative effects that last for years. Once you address the immediate problem, it is worth the time and effort to consider signing up with an identity monitoring service. Doing so will not totally eliminate the possibility of becoming a victim, but the right service will prevent identity fraud from being easy for those who would seek to take advantage of your good name.