September 13, 2006 12:23 PM
What Should You Do If Your Credit Card Is Lost Or Stolen?
Don’t get panic. With today’s zero liability clause available in most cards, if you take the right action, stolen card shouldn’t cause a big headache.
From Don’t get panic. With today’s zero liability clause available in most cards, if you take the right action, stolen card shouldn’t cause a big headache….:
Report a lost or stolen credit card to the card issuer as quickly as possible. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies. It’s a good idea to follow up your phone calls with a letter. Include your account number, when you noticed your card was missing, and the date you first reported it stolen or lost.
You also may want to check your homeowner’s policy to see if it covers your liability for this sort of theft. If not, some insurance companies will allow you to change your policy to include this protection.
Your maximum liability under federal law for a stolen credit card or other unauthorized use is $50. If you report the loss before your credit cards are used, the law says the issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your cards before you report them missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50 per card. Also, if the loss involves your credit card number, but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use.
After the loss, review your billing statements carefully. If they show any unauthorized charges, it’s best to send a letter to the issuer describing each questionable charge. Again, tell the issuer the date it was lost or stolen, or when you first noticed unauthorized charges, and when you first reported the problem to them. Be sure to send the letter to the address provided for billing errors. Do not send it with a payment or to the address where you send your payments unless you are directed to do so.
The best protection against having a card stolen is to know where it is at all times, and keep it secure. For protection of ATM and debit cards that involve a Personal Identification Number (PIN), keep your PIN a secret. Don’t use your address, birthdate, phone or Social Security number as the PIN and do memorize the number.
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