You are in a restaurant or a retail store, or walking down the sidewalk. You spot a lost credit card on the floor. What should you do next? According to www.creditcards.com, should you:
If you are in a shop or restaurant, give the card to a cashier or a supervisor?
Call the police?
Try to track the owner down and return it in person?
Call the toll-free number on the back of the card and report it as lost?
If you chose option four, you are not just a good Samaritan, you are a smart one.
Though the other options seem reasonable, they are not the best choices. These three “don’ts” and one “do” explain why calling the 800 number on the card and reporting it as lost is the best choice if you find a credit card.
Don’t: Give the card to a cashier or supervisor. This often feels like the first logical step.
“Most of us would rather not handle someone else’s lost property, so our reaction is to turn it over immediately to someone who can be responsible for it. Unfortunately, however, you have no way of knowing how honest that employee is.
The employee could easily write down the card number and try to use it themselves online, or sell the card number to a fraud ring.
It takes only seconds for an experienced thief to use a small electronic reader to skim data off of a credit card’s magnetic stripe or simply photograph a card’s front and back, and voila!
“They have now got all the information they need to re-programme a blank card like an electronic hotel key and create a new credit card. Using stolen credit card information online is even easier — no physical card is necessary.
Bottom line: Don’t trust retailers — even managers — with a lost credit card.
Don’t: Call the police. One caveat here: If you find an entire wallet, with a person’s ID, currency and credit cards, it is appropriate to call the authorities.
But if you find just a single credit card, experts say there are more effective ways to help: Most police forces run quite lean, and need to use their time to pursue serious crimes and criminals.
They don’t have time to pick up a lost credit card from you, or to track down its owner. From a financial institution point of view, we would prefer you just call the number on the back of the card, which will direct you to the bank that issued the card.
Don’t bug the cops as they would just direct you to call the card’s number anyway.
Don’t: Try to track down the owner. It may be tempting to jump onto the Internet and search for the card owner’s name or to see if you can message the owner on Facebook. After all, you’d love to do a good deed and put the card back in the owner’s hands.
It may eliminate the hassle of getting a new card, and perhaps of having to update automatic bills (gym dues, utility bills, online shopping accounts) that were linked to card.
Don’t try it. For one thing, you can’t be sure you’re finding the right person — especially if the card owner has a common name. More importantly, “Someone else could have already fraudulently used the card before you found it. They may have dropped it to make it look like it was just innocently lost,” warns Steinberg. If the owner reports it and there is any question of who stole or used it, you could be called in for questioning, and suddenly you are the one being hassled.
Do: Call the toll-free number on the back of the card and report it as lost.
This is your simplest, best move. And the sooner you do so, the better. The issuer will immediately lock down the account so it can’t be used — just in case a fraudster found the card before you did — notify the owner, and take care of issuing a replacement card. “Chances are good that the owner already realised it was lost and reported it anyway, but it is a smart and thoughtful extra precaution.”
What to do if you lose your credit card
A credit card is such a small thing: a slip of plastic, so easy to overlook as it skitters away while being stuffed into a pocket, or as it is knocked off a check stand in a rush to get home. But it can cause outright alarm if it goes missing.
If your credit card is lost, and you have searched for it to no avail, take these steps to limit your losses, and your stress level, www.nerdwallet.com reported.
Lock your card
Many major card issuers allow you to lock or freeze your credit card via a mobile app or website. That prevents new charges to the physical card — although recurring automatic charges will still go through. Locking a card gives you time to determine whether the card is lost for good before contacting your credit card company.
Do call your card issuer
When it comes to limiting your liability, time is of the essence. If you report your credit card lost before someone has a chance to use it, you won’t be liable for their expenditures. As noted, though, if they make purchases before you report the card missing, you could be liable for up to some amount in unauthorised purchases.
Communicate and keep records
Most banks or card issuers are available 24/7 to assist you with reporting your lost credit card, and appreciate the chance to limit losses. You can find your issuer’s phone numbers on its website or on your billing statements. Be prepared to cite the date and time you realised your card was missing. If you notice any discrepancies on your billing statement, mention that as well, and keep all relevant documents handy in case you need to answer any specific questions.
Once you have reported your card missing, your issuer will take the necessary steps to replace it. Your account won’t be cancelled — good news for your credit score — but the old card will no longer be associated with your account. Provided you pay off anything you are liable for, your credit won’t be negatively impacted.
Losing your credit card can be a distressing experience, but by acting quickly you can avoid taking a financial hit over unauthorised purchases. Contact your bank as soon as you realise the card is missing, spare no detail when you report it, and keep records of all communication between you and your creditor. And take a deep, cleansing breath: Soon your lost card will be blocked and your replacement card will be on its way.