Credit and debit cards are easy to use — and easy to steal. Learn how to protect yourself from credit card theft and what to do if your card is stolen.
If Your Credit Card Is Stolen
Whether the card itself was stolen or the credit card number has been compromised, you need to take immediate action. Here's how to get back on track:
1. Contact your credit card company
Call your credit card company and inform them of the theft immediately. You are not liable for charges made after you report the card lost/stolen.
2. Place a fraud alert on your credit report
Contact a major credit reporting company. Tell them your credit card is stolen, and you can either place a fraud alert or freeze your credit file.
Note: There is usually a nominal fee for placing a freeze. You may order one free credit report from each of the credit reporting companies every twelve months.
While you're in touch with these companies, check your credit report. Look for any suspicious or unapproved activity. To order a credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com, call (877) 322-8228 or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form from the Federal Trade Commission, available here and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Requesting Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Protect Your Credit Card Info
If you take a few simple steps, you can greatly reduce the chance that your credit card number can be stolen:
- Do not keep your PIN number written down with the card.
- Don't let clerks put your card where you can't see it. There are dishonest clerks out there!
- Confirm that the amount on the receipt is correct.
- Draw a line through any blank lines on the receipt (e.g., "Tip Amount").
- Never give your card number over the phone unless you made the call.
- Never reply to mail or email with your credit card number.
- If paying online, check the top area of your web browser for "https://"—which means the site is secure to use. Without the "s" in the website address, you're not on a secure website.
- Check your card statements every few weeks to confirm every charge was approved by you. (This is especially important for ATM/debit cards.)
- Keep track of your cards by listing the names, card numbers and phone numbers of the companies. Keep the list in a safe place separate from your cards.
The law requires that businesses hide all but the last four digits of a card number on receipts and documents (exception: when the only way to record the card number is writing it out by hand).
If you know a business that is failing to conceal card numbers, please file a complaint with our office.
ATM or Debit Cards
If your ATM card is stolen or compromised, you are not liable for any charges made after you report the loss/theft.
For most cards — both credit and ATM cards — you are liable only for up to $50 in charges that were made before you reported the loss/theft. But for ATM cards, this is true only if you report the loss/theft within two (2) business days of learning about the loss/theft. (In which case, your liability jumps to $500.)
Also, if an unauthorized charge to your ATM is reported to your bank statement, you are liable for the full amount unless you report the charge within 60 days of the date the statement is sent to you.
In other words, report the loss/theft of your ATM card immediately.