How to Report Stolen Credit Cards

Do you believe your credit card has been stolen? Thieves know you will contact your bank to cancel your stolen credit card and stop transactions when you realise your card has gone missing. They are likely to work fast. So should you.

Keep your credit card emergency contact telephone number ready at hand. You can load it into your mobile telephone, or keep it in your wallet or purse, or in your diary or personal digital assistant. And don't forget you will need to recover your credit card number from somewhere other than the missing card to pass those details to the bank, so you will need to record this detail as well.

You do need to keep your wits about you when your card goes missing, though. Ask people who have had their card stolen. Unless there was a face to face confrontation or mugging, it can be very confusing whether you have just mislaid your card or whether it has been stolen. Perhaps it is just your card, or your purse or wallet, that is missing, and since you saw nothing untoward you are not sure whether it was stolen or misplaced.

Did you leave it at home, or in your car, or at the last shop you visited, or in the pocket of the jacket you wore yesterday? Or was your wallet or purse quietly stolen by a thief or pickpocket while you were occupied having lunch? Cancelling your card does lead to delays before a replacement arrives, and usually a reissuing expense. People can therefore be reluctant to cancel their card until they are quite sure. Thieves also know this.

Ask any busy retailer. Every few days somebody will probably have left their credit card behind after a transaction, then arrive in the shop or phone up some time later as they try to backtrack where they have been to try and find the missing card before they call their credit card company.

If you still think the card has just been mislaid you must balance the resulting costs and inconvenience with the risk that something more serious has happened. Time is important, and prompt action is usually your safest decision if there is any doubt in your mind. If you believe there is a possibility your card could be in the hands of a thief you must promptly contact your credit card company and follow their instructions.

It is good practice to get into a habit of keeping your credit card in the same place all the time. Never just drop it into your pocket after you use it, but deliberately put it back into it's place in your wallet or purse. And always keep your wallet or purse in the same places, on your person or your dresser at night, to reduce the number of places you need to check if it has been mislaid. Good habits can be boring, but they can also make life easier.

Do not rely on your signature to protect you. They are not hard to forge well enough to get by in a busy shop, and have you noticed how the signature on your card will get harder to read with wear after a few month's of use? A photograph on your credit card is more likely to catch the thief out when your stolen card is used.

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