Lost Credit Card—A Guide to Protecting Your Identity and Financial Information
Losing a credit card can happen to us all, and the consequences can be devastating if the loss is not reported in a timely manner. Whether you think someone has stolen your credit card or you misplaced it yourself, your financial information is put in jeopardy. Individuals who steal or find your lost credit card can use it for malicious purposes, such as fraudulent purchases or identity theft, causing significant financial, reputational, and emotional distress.
The Nilson Report predicts that total losses in card fraud in the U.S. will go over $165 billion within the next 10 years. To avoid becoming part of these alarming statistics, you should educate yourself on what to do if you lose a credit card.
Besides revealing which steps to take when losing a credit card, this article will also clarify:
- How losing a card might affect your credit score
- Whether you can track your lost credit card
- What measures to take to protect your financial information from getting lost or stolen in the future
What To Do When You Lose Your Credit Card?
Once you determine your credit card is missing, it is crucial to take the following steps immediately:
- Contact your bank or credit card issuer.
- Request a replacement card.
- Update the billing information for recurring payments.
Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Issuer
As soon as you realize you’ve lost your credit card, notify your bank or credit union. The Fair Credit Billing Act protects most consumers as long as the credit card loss or fraud is reported promptly.
Once you report the loss of your credit card, you will not be held responsible for any purchases someone else may make with it. If your credit card has been used fraudulently before you reported the loss, federal law generally limits your liability to $50. However, most banks have zero liability policies for their customers and typically won’t hold them responsible even for the $50.
Some banks offer users the option to freeze lost or stolen cards from their account interface. If your bank has an online app, visit the self-service section and look for the option to freeze your lost credit card. Then, you can report the loss by doing any of the following:
- Calling the credit card issuer—You can typically find the credit card issuer’s number on their website or on your credit card statement.
- Connecting to a customer service representative via chat—Check the issuer’s website for a web chat feature and write a message.
In order to confirm your identity, be prepared to provide personal details such as your full name, Social Security number, address, and date of birth to the customer service representative. They will also ask you when you noticed the card was missing and whether any fraudulent purchases took place in the meantime.
After the credit card issuer processes your report, they will cancel your credit card, ensuring that no one can use it for unauthorized transactions.
Request a Replacement Card
The process to request a replacement card may vary from issuer to issuer. In most cases, the bank or credit union will send a replacement for free after canceling your lost credit card. It typically takes 3–7 days for the replacement card to arrive by mail. You may be able to pay extra for overnight shipping if you need the replacement fast—check with your credit card issuer whether that is an option.
Update the Billing Information for Recurring Payments
If you have automatic payments such as bills and subscriptions set up on your credit card, the next step is to update every account with your new billing information.
Once the credit card issuer deactivates your lost credit card, the recurring payments will be declined, which can lead to late payment penalties. It’s crucial to update your billing information as soon as you receive the replacement card.
After you receive your new card, the steps involved are typically the following:
- Access your subscription accounts
- Navigate to the billing section
- Remove the lost credit card from your account
- Add the replacement card’s number, CVC, and expiration date
You can also call the merchant in question to give them your new card number.
After the first billing cycle of your replacement card, check your credit statements to confirm all automatic payments have gone through. If they haven’t, notify the customer support team of the associated service to ensure the card details are updated.
Additional Steps To Take After Replacing a Lost Credit Card
Once you replace your lost credit card, you can take some additional steps to protect yourself from fraud and avoid losing it in the future:
- Keep checking your credit card statements—The statements will reveal whether your lost credit card has been misused. If you see any transactions you don’t recognize, notify your credit card issuer immediately to limit your liability.
- Don’t carry all your credit cards with you—Carrying all your credit cards imposes the risk of losing them all if you misplace your wallet or purse.
- Consider switching to digital wallets—You can add your credit card to a digital wallet such as Apple Pay or Google Pay and use it wherever mobile payments are allowed.
Note that your credit card information is not safe even if you stop carrying your physical card with you. Card-not-present fraud has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, making up for 73% of the total card payment fraud loss in 2023, so it’s crucial to adopt security practices to protect your financial data from hackers.
The Dangers of Exposing Your Credit and Debit Card Data During Transactions
Online transactions have become one of the most vulnerable points for data breaches. Stolen data such as Social Security numbers, biometric data, and personally identifiable information (PII) fuel the trillion-dollar cyber fraud network.
Leaving your real credit or debit card data on merchants’ websites is risky as a skilled hacker can break through servers’ defenses, access your sensitive information, and use it to:
- Make fraudulent transactions
- Create fake credit cards
- Apply for loans in your name
- Sell your data on the dark web
Cyberattacks have become more and more sophisticated over time, which is why it is crucial to apply security practices against online data theft. Those include:
- Creating unique and strong passwords for different accounts—Make sure your passwords combine capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to make them as difficult to guess as possible. It’s also crucial to ensure you never use the same password twice in case a website’s systems get hacked. Consider using a password manager like 1Password to manage and securely store your passwords.
- Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA)—This method entails an additional identification measure besides your password, ensuring a potential hacker cannot access your account with only your login credentials.
- Avoiding transactions on suspicious websites—Always look for a “htttps://” prefix in the URL, signifying a secure connection.
- Using virtual cards—A virtual card provides an integral security layer against cyberattacks by masking your real card and bank account information during online transactions. While a virtual card is tied to your actual card or bank account, it has a unique 16-digit number, CVC code, and expiration date you can use for online purchases. Many banks offer virtual cards to their customers, but the best option is signing up for an independent virtual card provider, such as Privacy, offering robust security measures and comprehensive control and customization options.
Minimize the Risks of Stolen Financial Data With Privacy
Privacy Virtual Cards safeguard your debit card and bank account data from being compromised during online transactions. If a breach on a merchant’s website occurs, the hacker can only access your virtual card data while your real financial information remains protected. With Privacy, you can create two types of virtual cards: