I lived the horror of a stolen credit card recently. At a store, I placed the card on a counter, turned around for just a few seconds and it was gone! Of course, no one saw what happened so I was left completely financially exposed. I took immediate action to prevent my credit and identity from being harmed. So far, I have not been able to find any repercussions from my loss except for some lost time to phone calls because of my swift action.
Report the Theft to the Company Immediately
Contact your credit card provider immediately upon finding out the card is stolen. Nearly all companies have a toll free number to report lost or stolen cards. Federal law protects you from unauthorized transactions made from the stolen credit card from the point that it is reported stolen. If you lose an ATM or debit card, or it gets stolen, there are fewer protections in place. It is even more important to report lost or stolen ATM or debit cards as soon as possible.
Follow up the phone call with notification in writing, either by mail or email, that your card was stolen. This will give you extra notification protection. Keep a copy of this letter. Also, using delivery confirmation if the letter is sent by regular mail will give an inexpensive protection.
Keep a log of all phone calls and letters that you make regarding the lost or stolen card. This log can be valuable later. Record everyone's name, title and if possible employee ID number in addition to the time, date and place of interaction.
Report the Theft to the Police
If you believe that your credit card was stolen, even if you cannot prove a theft, go to your local police station and complete a police report. This act will make a verifiable record of your loss with law enforcement. You will need a copy of this police report if the account becomes further compromised and you are a victim of identity theft.
Review Your Next Few Statements Carefully
For your next few credit card statements, review each item carefully. It can help to keep a ledger of all transactions with the replacement credit card to be certain that each charge was legitimate. Write down the physical location, time and company name in addition to the charge amount in order to properly verify all transactions. Report any unauthorized transactions immediately.
Order a Credit Report
Whenever there has been suspicious activity regarding your financial health, get a copy of one of your credit reports every three months. As a consumer, you are entitled to a free copy of each of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.