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You found a lost credit card and want to help reunite the card with its owner, but you’re busy and can’t stick around for that person to come running back to claim it. What should you do to help? Here are some options.
» MORE: How to prevent credit card fraud
If you’re in a rush, turn the card in
Hand the lost card over to someone with authority. Depending on where you found it, that could mean a store employee, restaurant or bar manager, security guard or a lost-and-found. If the card’s owner can retrace their steps to the last place they used the card, they’ll probably contact people on staff to find it. At the very least, you’re giving that card a more secure home while it waits to be claimed.
If you have a few minutes, call the credit card company
Got some time to spare? Call the number on the back of the card and tell the credit card company that you found it. They’ll contact the card’s owner for you. It’s possible that the card was already reported as lost anyway, and the card company will issue a new card with a new number.
What if someone claims you have their card?
As you stand there, considering exactly how to be a good Samaritan, someone runs up to you and says you’re holding their lost card. Now your ethical dilemma has intensified. What if that person is lying?
Just ask them for the name on the card. If their answer is quick and correct, odds are they’re being honest. If they hesitate, find a store manager or security guard immediately and make sure the would-be thief doesn’t follow you out the door. If they become irate, make your own safety the priority.
What not to do
Take the card home and destroy it. Don’t invite liability into your life by taking a lost credit card home. You run the risk of being reported as a thief even if your intentions were good. Plus, as unshreddable metal cards become more popular, you may not be able to safely destroy and dispose of a card without the credit card company’s help.
Call the police. A lost credit card is annoying, but it doesn’t exactly rise to the level of police involvement, even if the card gets used for fraudulent purchases. Federal law limits a card holder’s liability for fraud to $50, and many credit card issuers offer zero fraud liability. In other words, the cardholder can report the stolen funds and get their money back.
Do nothing. Unless you are truly in a rush, you can be helpful in just a few minutes by handing the card to a store employee or calling the credit card company. You’d want someone to do the same for you.