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Published on January 7, 2014 | Updated on January 7, 2014
Nothing quite compares to losing a credit card. We’ve all had that sinking feeling when we realize we’ve left behind a phone, a shopping bag full of purchases, or even dropped some cash on the floor without realizing it. While those losses can be expensive, none of those losses can become someone else’s opportunity for a high-limit shopping spree.
Assuming you’ve already searched high and low for the card and realized that the situation is literally out of your hands, you may be wondering what to do to limit your losses. Read on to find out.
Thankfully, federal law caps your total liability for a stolen or lost credit
card to just $50. Moreover, many credit card companies have zero-liability policies whereby you’re not on the hook for a single cent. Even in the worst case scenario, you’ll probably be okay.
…but call your credit company fast
That said, when it comes to limiting your liability, time is of the essence. If you report that your credit card is lost before someone has a chance to use it, you won’t be liable for their expenditures. As we said before, though, if they make purchases before you report that your card is missing, you’re liable for up to $50 in unauthorized purchases on a credit card.
It’s even worse for debit cards. According to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). if you report your missing card within two business days after you discover it’s missing, your liability for unauthorized purchases is $50. If you miss the two-day window but report it within 60 days of receiving your billing statement, your liability shoots up to $500. And if you wait beyond the 60-day period, you may be liable for all unauthorized purchases.
Communicate quickly and keep records
Most card issuers are available 24/7 to assist you with reporting your lost credit card. You can find your creditor’s phone numbers on the issuer’s site or on your billing statements. Be ready to tell your creditors the date and time you noticed your card was missing. If you noticed any discrepancies on your billing statement, be sure to mention that as well, and keep all relevant documents handy in case you need to answer any specific questions. That said, my experience with reporting a lost card has mostly been positive – the issuer is just glad not to lose any money.
Major credit card issuers’ hotlines