What to do if your Credit Card is lost or stolen?

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Responsibility is yours, the money on the card isn’t yours (you’re merely borrowing it) Credit cards are a bizarre concept at the best of times, and the most evil seeds of the credit market out there. However, with credit cards probably being the most widely available and carried around credit, with the easiest use, it is also quite possibly the simplest to steal, and most likely to be stolen. In light of this we need to know what to do when ours disappears.

Unlike things like a mortgage or car credit which are items that don’t fit into your wallet and can’t be stolen with just a slight of hand whilst your walking through the mall, credit cards are regularly pinched or cloned in the modern world. Also, credit card theft is no longer just a physical act of stealing the card, but also the technological theft of the information, we need to know what to do.

Credit cards, as we all likely know are a card (hence the name) piece of plastic, that holds an amount of money (more precisely credit) set by the bank (or credit card provider) such as Halifax or Barclay’s. The cards can then be used on purchases, cash withdrawals or to clear the balance of another card. However ,the catch is that you don’t just pay back what you spend (unless you pay it back inside that billing month) you also pay back interest on your spending, thus making the provider money during the life time of your balance.

The concept is with out a doubt profitable for one party, and it’s never the customer, banks loved giving them out during the credit boom of the 90’s and early 00’s as they were seen as relatively safe and hugely profitable. But now with the web of credit breaking down, the world’s economic melt down of the late 00’s have seen more people being chased for missed payments than ever before. It has also seen a huge rise in the amount of theft of credit cards (both physically and electronically). So what can the customers do about it?

Well for physical theft it’s simple, report it to the provider as soon as you realise you can’t find it, the quicker you report it the better. The company should stop the use of the card immediately deactivating it and if requested sending a replacement card with the pre-theft balance on it. The banks often willing to take the hit on the theft amount hoping the police will find the thief and the money can be recollected through the courts, though even if it’s not their best interest is to keep their customers happy as they will earn more from you than the cost of the theft usually.

The physical theft is simple to report and simple to detect in all honesty. If you’r e missing your wallet and you keep your card in there, report EVERY card whether it’s credit, debit or just a cash card. They are all the customers responsibility to report as stolen and not the banks to find out about, so report them and let the banks sort it out rather than worrying. The money on the balance will be refunded usually every penny of any purchases within the 24 hours of them. If you leave weeks then you’re more likely to be held as liable for the spending as you’ve failed to report it.

However the electronic theft is really where the problem lies now a days with 2 totally different forms of it, one being the virtual theft of the cards, also known as skimming, and the other being online fraud.

The skimming is becoming almost entirely related to machines where people use the card having a device (such as a false facial attached to an ATM) that reads the information from the electronic chip on the card. Scammers then copy this information onto a blank card of some sort (be it a blank store card, or a mobile top up card) then use the data to use the card at other ATM type terminals to take the cash out of the account and spend.

Although not the most typical threat of a card, the theft of the credit on the card is a problem and is a problem to report as you may not realise it until your next bill arrives. When it arrives call the provider immediately, and tell them that you didn’t make the purchases. If possible, provide proof of some sort, for example if the spending was done in London whilst you were on holiday in Paris, and have restaurant receipts to prove you we’re not even in the country. The provider will almost certainly refund the spending on the card with out arguments. Without proof it becomes a lot more complex and goes through the providers fraud departments, as it does if it’s an online scam.

Now online scams are seen as a growing part of credit based theft, in which the details are entered either into entirely fake websites that are seen as clone websites of the official ones, often found as click-able links in E-mails. The customer puts all their account details in, effectively giving the reign of the account to the third party (the thief); this results in the third party having every bit of your account details. This leaves you defenceless from them using your details online on any websites they want. Again, report this as soon as you realise the unauthorised activity on your account as the provider can then stop it, issue a new card and stop any more damage.

On the whole, the bank will side with you on most cases and will get your money back. Thus, your ratings won’t be effected, however it is your responsibility to report credit card theft to them. If you decide they’ll sort it out and don’t make them aware of anything, then you will be at fault not them, don’t expect them to tidy up if you do leave it.

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