It’s January and the holiday credit card bills are trickling in. Unfortunately, there are charges to your account that you just can’t account for. After checking with family members who may have used your credit cards, you realize that your card or card information was stolen.
Always keep the 24-hour fraud numbers for your cards handy because prompt action limits your liability for unauthorized use of credit cards, as well as ATM and debit cards. Once you report a stolen card to the issuer, you can’t be held liable for any unauthorized transactions.
While many card issuers have a zero-liability policy for stolen cards, liability varies from institution to institution. The Fair Credit Billing Act outlines the maximum losses possible:
- Unauthorized use of your credit card: $50 liability maximum.
- Stolen credit card reported before any charges are made: $0 liability for any charges you didn’t authorize.
- Stolen credit card number, but not the card itself: $0 liability for unauthorized charges.
Damage to your credit rating caused by a stolen card can be hard to undo, so even if your liability seems relatively small, contact the issuer as soon as you realize your card is stolen.
You’ve alerted your credit card issuer by phone regarding the theft, now it’s time to back that up with an email and a certified return-receipt-requested letter detailing any charges that you didn’t authorize. Note contact dates and times in your records and keep copies of letters and emails on file.
Now place an Initial Fraud Alert with one of the three main credit reporting companies to prevent bogus accounts from being opened in your name.
Last, But Not Least…
Get a copy of your credit report and check it carefully for unauthorized transactions, including any new accounts you didn’t open.
Unauthorized charges are a gift nobody wants to receive before, during or after the holidays. If your credit card is stolen, fast action is necessary to return your credit back to normal.
Stay on top of your transactions with convenient Online and Mobile banking from the first: http://www.fnbn.com/online-mobile
Did you know that federal law entitles you to one free copy of your credit report per year from all three major credit bureaus? Find out more in The First’s YouTube video: Monitoring Your Credit.
Do you have tips on protecting your credit cards from loss or theft? Let us know in the comments below: