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What to Do When You Lose Your Credit Card
What to Do When You Lose Your Credit Card
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What to Do When You Lose Your Credit Card

Money254
Doris Kendi
March 9, 2022

When you realise that your credit card is missing, what is your first reaction? Do you panic and go on a frenzy trying to find it? Or do you calmly sit down and plan a line of action? 

Losing a credit card is not at all surprising. Like any other accident, it happens. And it will probably happen to you at some point in your financial journey. So instead of waiting for it to happen and throw you into a panic mode, it is crucial to educate yourself on the steps to take when you lose your credit card to know what to do when and if it does happen.

Hence, here are 6 steps to take once you realise your credit card is missing. 

Step 1: Freeze or Temporarily Disable Your Card

As soon as you realise that your card is missing, you should temporarily lock or freeze your card. 

There is a chance that you just misplaced your card, but it is also possible that it was stolen. Therefore, freezing the card will buy your time to trace your steps to try and find it.

Most cards give you an option to lock your card from your phone or computer. This generally takes a few clicks, and your card will freeze any new and incoming transactions. You can check with your issuer if you are unsure how to do this.

Here is an example of the process for freezing a Standard Chartered Bank credit card

This prevents thieves from fraudulently using your card to make purchases and take card advances. If you find the card, it also takes a few clicks to unlock the card and start using it again instantly - just like an on/off switch. 

Also, visit our credit card comparison page to see some of the main credit card options available for you in Kenya today. 

Step 2: Retrace Your Steps

With the card on pause, take the time to go back to where you last used the card. It can be that you simply misplaced it. 

So check the areas where you might have placed it and forgotten. For example, if you made an online purchase last, the card might still be sitting on the table where you sat as you did the transaction. 

If you purchased at a store, you might have forgotten to pick up your card after completing the transaction. 

If you still do not find the card, it is time for the next step. 

Also read: Who Is A Credit Card Not For?

Step 3: Call Your Credit Card Issuer and Deactivate Your Card

If your card is still missing - or your whole wallet - it is time to contact your issuer to deactivate the card. Depending on the issuer, you can do this online, through email, by phone, or through its mobile app. Fully deactivating the card will offer complete protection against any fraudulent activities on the card. 

Fortunately, many issuers offer zero liability for all unauthorised activities made while the card is missing. However, it is essential to report the card missing as soon as possible in order to enjoy this benefit. 

Step 4: If Stolen, File a Police Report

It is also important to file a police report if you suspect that your card was stolen - especially if your whole wallet was stolen. Unauthorised card purchases are a form of identity theft and should be dealt with by the law. So along with notifying your credit card issuer, it can help to visit your nearest police station and file a report. 

You might be wondering, why report to the police when your card issuer absolves you of fraudulent card charges? 

Reporting the crime can give the police a chance to trace and apprehend the criminal and therefore allow them to solve a crime in cyberspace - especially if the case relates to other crimes of the same type. 

Step 5: Monitor Your Credit Card Statement and Dispute Any Fraud on It

Once you have reported to the issuer and the police, monitor your card statement to identify and dispute any unauthorised charges. You can do this through your online account - if you have one - or request the issuer for your daily card statement. 

It is important to pay more attention to the minor charges especially. Thieves often use a stolen card to make small purchases first to see if it works before making a big purchase. 

If you note any fraudulent charges, notify your issuer immediately and dispute them. The issuer will then freeze these charges, and you will not need to pay them together with your existing bill or until the investigation is completed.  

Step 6: Request a Replacement and Update Recurring Bills

If the card is lost or stolen, you will need to request the issuer for a replacement. Sometimes, depending on the issuer, you might still need to request a card replacement even if you find the card after it has been missing. 

The period before you get your new card varies depending on the issuer. Some issuers replace the card instantly, while others take up to a week to issue a replacement. Also, some issuers replace the card for free, while others charge a replacement fee. 

After getting your new card, you might need to check and update your recurring bills to avoid missing required payments. 

Also read: What is a Credit Card’s interest-free period? And How Does it Work?

How to Protect Yourself From Future Credit Card Fraud

There is no bulletproof way that can protect you from losing your card. You might forget it at your merchant's checkout counter, slip it in your pocket or wallet only for it to slip out, or it might get stolen when you least expect it. But here are suggestions that might help you prevent the loss or theft of your card in the future.

  • Carry your card only when necessary
  • Put your card in a specific place. For example, a specific compartment in your wallet or purse. Make it a routine so that you know when the card is missing.
  • Always scrutinise your credit card statement for any charges you did not make and report these immediately. 
  • Keep your card information in a safe place. Sometimes all that a credit card fraudster needs to commit fraud with your card is your account number. 
  • Avoid sharing your credit card information over the phone (unless you made the call) or online on suspicious websites. 

Also read: 7 Credit Card Myths You Should Stop Believing

WRAPPING UP

It is essential to always keep track of where your cards are. After all, they are tied to your financial wellbeing. However, if you lose your credit card, do not panic. Whether it is missing or stolen, follow the above steps, and everything will turn out just fine. 

It is also vital to ensure that you treat your credit card with utmost care to avoid losing it. Above are some tips that can help you keep your card safe and help you avoid the hustle of having to deal with the police and the issuer at the same time.

Doris is a finance professional, freelance writer and SEO expert. She has experience helping businesses of all sizes create content that helps improve their site quality and increase their online traffic. She is a personal finance and wealth creation enthusiast and a frequent contributor to Money254. Visit Doris' personal website to learn more about her work.

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