What to Do if Your Credit Card or Wallet is Stolen

5 simple steps to take when your credit card or wallet is stolen: Internet ScamBusters #122

Internet ScamBusters™

The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Audri and Jim Lanford

Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford

All rights reserved.

Issue #122

Hi Everyone,

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:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

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.