The dread of being a victim of a lost or stolen credit card can be overwhelming. Even when you take proper measures to safeguard your financial information, sometimes unfortunate situations, such as a data breach at your favorite retailer, are out of your control.

Knowing what to do when your credit card details have become compromised makes sense in these cases.

Steps to take when you have a lost or stolen credit card

Take advantage of this simple guide to navigate the process of reporting the incident to your card provider and getting a replacement card. Whether you’re the target of pickpocketing or card skimming, time is of the essence when filing a report for your stolen credit card.

Likewise, the same is true when you cannot find your credit card because you may have left it inserted at a payment terminal or misplaced your physical wallet.

Step 1: Contact your card issuer immediately

Call your card issuer’s customer support line to speak with a representative in real-time. Since there could be a wait time before you connect to a live rep, in the meantime, open your credit card provider’s mobile app or website to send a secure message. This starts a paper trail and provides time stamps for your correspondence.

With Vital Card, you can open your app and navigate to the account menu to freeze a compromised card, and request a new one. See our FAQ for more about digital information security.

If you cannot freeze your credit card by manually selecting the option on the app or website, request the freeze both in writing and when talking to customer service.

The credit bureau services Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion offer options for the credit freeze process from their sites. Check with your card provider or credit bureau service for more information on their credit freeze steps.

In your electronic and over-the-phone reports, note relevant details like the approximate location where you think the credit card was stolen or lost. At this time, you may also want to ask for a replacement credit card.

Why you should apply a credit freeze

When not only your credit card is gone, but you believe your personal information like your social security number has also become compromised, a temporary credit freeze could be in order. A credit freeze prevents you or anyone else from opening a new line of credit under your identity, including a mortgage, student loan, or another credit card.

This way, a fraudster won’t be able to damage your credit, and your credit report can remain in good condition and free from both soft and hard inquiries. Credit freezes do not cost money, and placing and lifting a freeze is as straightforward as contacting the three major credit reporting agencies to make the request. These credit bureaus are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

Step 2: Update your card account login information

As an extra precaution, reduce the chances of fraud by changing your credit card account password. A strong password should ideally have complexity and be unique to this account. In addition, if you haven’t already, add two-factor authentication (2FA), such as a biometric factor via fingerprint or facial recognition, to boost your account’s security.

Step 3: Monitor your credit card transaction history

Regularly review your credit card statement to check for any fraudulent purchases and transactions you do not recognize, which may include a cash advance. If you notice suspicious activity on your transaction history, take note of the billing descriptor, the total amount paid, date, time, and location of the charge. Report these details to your credit card issuer through secure messages and phone calls to aid the ongoing investigation.

Step 4: Dispute any unauthorized charges

Contact your card provider to start a claim disputing fraud and each transaction you did not personally make. Maintain a paper trail of your dispute claims so you can reference them and follow up if your card issuer fails to resolve the cases promptly. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) grants many consumer protections to cardholders disputing credit card charges with their provider.

Step 5: Track your replacement card

When you requested a replacement credit card, the customer support representative should have given you an estimated delivery timeline for your new card. It could take three to two weeks for your replacement card to arrive, depending on the location of your card issuer’s headquarters or offices.

An unfortunate scenario is your replacement card also becoming lost or stolen while in transit, so it may help to follow up about the new card if the delivery window has already passed.

What if I end up finding my missing card?

Sometimes a so-called lost or stolen credit card is a misplaced card. Sometimes your card can be located in a physical place, such as within your home, where it is unlikely it was used by frauds.

In the event you find a lost credit card, you can call the card provider from the number that is often listed on the back of the card, and report the card as found. You can also send a secure message to let them know about your discovery to conclude their investigation.

Your card provider may have already deactivated your old credit card, so you’ll have to wait until the replacement comes in the mail. In this case, destroy your old card by shredding or cutting it up.

Do I have to pay for fraudulent purchases made on my stolen credit card?

Fortunately, the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) provides cardholders protections for stolen credit cards. Federal law states if you contact your card issuer to report a missing credit card after a thief uses it, you are liable for a maximum of $50 for the fraudulent purchases.

However, suppose you let your card provider know your credit card is gone and make a formal report before any unauthorized charges are made. In that case, you are not responsible for any of the fraudster’s transactions. This primarily applies to ATM and debit cards. However, the guidelines are slightly different because cardholders’ maximum liability can reach $500 if they wait more than two business days to report the stolen card.

How can I protect myself from credit card fraud?

There are plenty of ways to keep your personal and financial information secure, from maintaining a unique password for each account to carefully monitoring your monthly statement balance. Protect yourself from credit card fraud by considering the following approaches.

Make purchases with a digital wallet

A digital wallet, also called an electronic wallet or e-wallet, securely stores payment data, such as credit card or bank account details. It can also hold gift cards, coupon vouchers, identification cards, and plane tickets. Business Insider Personal Finance explained that these apps are created with special measures in place to prevent unauthorized access to your funds.

With an e-wallet like Apple Pay or Google Wallet, users can make contactless transactions with their smartphone, smartwatch, or computer. Electronic wallets use encryption and tokenization technology to securely process transactions online and at in-person retailers and eateries. This way, you can leave your credit cards, ID, and cash home and stay safe from fraudsters.

Apply a VPN when using public Wi-Fi

Hackers may attempt to steal your information over unsecured internet connections in public spaces.

Norton, a leading provider of cybersecurity information, recommends you encrypt your private data and hide your identity when online by using a virtual private network (VPN) browser extension or software. Fortunately, there are many choices when it comes to VPNs, from free programs to ones with affordable pricing options.

Become aware of common scams

Text message and email phishing is a frequent occurrence, and the goal of scammers who use this tactic is to obtain your personal and financial information. These fraudsters often pretend to be someone you know and send a link to spread malware or expose your sensitive data.

Another popular method of stealing credit card numbers is through skimming devices. Card skimmers are placed at fuel pumps or point-of-sale systems in stores to collect your payment details after you swipe the terminal with your card. With skimmers, knowing when you’re the victim of a stolen credit card can be challenging until you encounter unauthorized charges on your statement balance.

Which credit cards let you freeze spending?

The freeze feature is arguably one of the most valuable credit card security benefits. It can come in handy in a pinch when your card is missing. On top of that, the feature can even help promote healthy financial habits by allowing you to freeze your card to prevent yourself from overspending or shopping for expendable goods and services.

Smart credit cards like Vital Card make it easy to freeze a card whenever you need. Cardholders can simply log into the Vital Card App app and freeze their Vital Card. This streamlines reporting a missing card by restricting any fraudulent or unauthorized transactions from being made on the card during the freeze.

Why choose Vital Card?

In addition to offering user-friendly freeze functionality, the Vital Card takes advantage of industry-leading security features. The physical card does not have a credit card number on it, so a fraudster who steals the card is unable to use it to make online transactions. Instead, the Vital Card App securely stores the credit card’s essential information.

Plus, the Vital Card is compatible with secure digital wallets, including Samsung Wallet, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet. The card also comes with various perks such as Vital cash rewards, empowering cardholders to earn income for everyday purchases and credit score gains. Elevate your financial health with the Vital Card, and join the waitlist today.


Skimming" | Federal Bureau of Investigation, Scams and Safety

What To Know About Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts” | Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Advice

Choosing and Protecting Passwords” | Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Disputing Credit Card Charges” | Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Advice

What Should I Do If I Find Someone’s Credit Card?" | Nerdwallet

Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards” | Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Advice

Phishing” | Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Advice

Card Skimmers” | Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Vital Card blog posts are intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial or any other type of advice.