5 simple steps to take when your credit card or wallet is stolen: Internet ScamBusters #122
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Today’s issue concisely answers the question: what do you do if your credit card
or wallet is stolen?
We provide 5 simple steps that guide you through the process. Please note that
the first step should be done by everyone — now — it will make dealing with
any emergency in which your credit card is stolen or lost much simpler.
Let’s get going…
What to Do if Your Credit Card or Wallet is Stolen
We’ve talked a lot about how to prevent credit card theft. If you haven’t read
our article, "Credit
Card Fraud: 21 Tips to Protect Yourself," we recommend you do
so now. (It’s one of the most popular pages on our site.)
Today we take this a step further and show you the five steps to take — in order
— if your credit card or wallet is stolen:
Step 1. The first step is something you should do NOW — before anything goes
wrong: Make copies of all your credit cards, ID cards and licenses — everything
in your wallet.
If you think you’re immune from having your credit cards stolen, you’re wrong.
We hope it never happens to you, but it certainly could, and your experience will
be less traumatic if you are prepared.
Make sure you photocopy both sides of all your cards, and/or list your account
numbers, and the toll free phone numbers you’d need to call to report them missing.
Keep this photocopy in a separate, safe place.
If you’ve already done this in the past, have you updated it lately? Is a copy
of everything in your wallet included?
Step 2. The second thing to do is call the companies that issued your credit cards
to report the theft. Do this as soon as you discover the problem. Use the toll
free number — most companies are available 24 hours a day to deal with these
emergencies. Write down the name of each person you speak with.
It’s a good idea to follow up each of your phone calls with a letter (you can
do this after you complete Step 5 — it’s not as time critical). Summarize your
phone conversation, including your name, account number, when you noticed that
your card was missing, the date you first reported the loss via phone, and the
name of the person you spoke with.
Alternatively, you can purchase a credit card registration service for an annual
fee and register your account numbers with this service. Then, you only have to
make one phone call to report all card losses (rather than calling each individual
issuer). Many services also will request replacement credit cards on your behalf.
We believe these services are pricey for what they offer, but some people appreciate
the service. If you go this route, compare offers since they do vary. In any event,
you do need to make sure you keep your info up to date with the registration service,
or it won’t help you.
Step 3. Next, call the three national credit-reporting agencies to report the
theft, and ask them to attach a ‘fraud alert’ to all your credit cards. Here are
the three agencies and their numbers:
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Step 4. If your social security card is missing, call the Social Security Administration
(fraud line) at 1-800-269-0271. Also, be sure the Motor Vehicles Bureau about
your drivers license, as well as any other organizations from which you lost cards.
Step 5. Next, call the police in the jurisdiction where your credit card(s) was
stolen to report the theft.
We hope your credit card and/or wallet is never stolen. However, now you know
exactly what to do if it is. Have a great week.