If your credit card has ever been lost or stolen, you know that sinking feeling very well. It suddenly dawns on you — your pocket is a little light, and your credit card is nowhere to be found. That’s when panic sets in and you begin to retrace your steps.
Still can’t find it? Here’s what you should do next.
The first thing you should do is call your credit card issuer and tell them your card has been lost or stolen. At that point, after a few identity verification questions, your issuer will go ahead and cancel your card and the PIN that goes with it with your consent. They will then arrange to send you a new card in the mail or have it waiting for you at your local branch. Once your credit card is cancelled, cut up the old card so that it can’t be cloned or used as a dummy credit card with a stolen credit card number.
If you can’t call your credit card issuer right away, or you’re still confident that your card will turn up eventually, you may be able to freeze or lock your account, preventing the card from being used for purchases. You can initiate the freeze through the provider’s app on your phone or your computer as part of online banking. Once you find the card or you’re able to cancel it by contacting your credit card issuer, you can unlock the account the same way you locked it.
Once you receive your replacement credit card, update all the login information on any relevant online accounts. Obviously, your credit card account and your online banking portal are a no-brainer, but you’ll also want to update your credit card information for any subscriptions or online portals through which you purchase goods, such as Amazon, Uber, PayPal or even any digital wallet you may hold like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay.
Finally, you’ll want to call each of the credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion) and get them to place a fraud alert on your credit file, so it’s harder for anyone to take out credit in your name while potentially assuming your identity.
In the following months, keep a close eye on your credit card statement. If you see anything out of the ordinary, like a purchase you don’t remember making, call your credit card issuer back right away.
Once you report your credit card lost or stolen to your credit card issuer, the zero liability policy on your card kicks in, and you are not responsible for any purchases made with the credit card after that. Even if purchases are made with your credit card before you inform your credit card issuer, in most provinces, your liability is limited to $50. Most credit issuers will even waive that cost in the name of good customer service.
Still, not being responsible for fraudulent purchases is no reason to keep losing your credit card. To ensure your credit card stays with you at all times and minimize the damage when you do lose it, try the following:
Aaron Broverman has been a personal finance journalist for over a decade. His work has appeared on such outlets as Yahoo Finance Canada, Bankrate and Creditcards.com, Money Under 30, Wealth Rocket, CBC.ca and Greedyrates.ca. This former Toronto transplant via Vancouver now lives in Waterloo with his wife and son. When he’s not writing about your money and how to use it, you’ll find his nose in a comic book relating to the work life balance of Spider-Man and the clumsy brute strength of The Hulk.