What to do if Your Card Gets Stolen
What To Do If Your Card Is Stolen

Your wallet has been stolen. Your purse is missing.
In addition to your driver's license, personal pictures,
and cash, you've lost something else.

Your credit cards.

Credit card theft is a common crime. If you were to be
victimized, would you know what to do?

The first thing you should do is call the credit card issuer
and report it. Almost all companies have toll-free lines that
are open 24 hours a day. Then follow up in writing. Give them as
many details as possible: when you last saw your card, when
you noticed it was missing, when you first called to report the
loss, etc.

The big question is how much of he fraudulent charges can you be
held liable for?

Under federal law your maximum liability for unauthorized use of
your card is only $50. And that is only if a thief uses the card
before you report it to the credit card company. If you realize
your card is missing and you act quickly you can report it stolen
before the thief has a chance to use it. In that case, you will
not be liable for any unauthorized charges.

If the thief stole only your credit card number and you still have
the card itself, you can not be held liable for unauthorized use.

Do the same rules apply for debit cards?

No. Debit cards work a little differently. Under federal law your
liability for unauthorized use of your debit card depends on how
quickly you report it.

If you report the theft before the thief has a chance to use your
card you have zero liability. The card issuer can not hold you
responsible for any unauthorized use. But the longer you wait, the
more you stand to lose.

If the thief uses the card before you report it missing, you could
lose a lot more than $50. If you report the loss within two business
days your maximum liability is only $50. But if you don't report it
within two business days you could lose up to $500.

And if you do not report the loss until 60 days after you receive a
bank statement showing fraudulent activity, there is no limit to
your loss. You could quickly find your bank account empty with no
way to get it back.

So if you do find yourself a victim a of credit card theft, limit
your losses by reporting the theft as quickly as you can.

Ed Lathrop is a successful real estate investor and a series 3 commodities futures broker.
He has extensive knowledge of the credit/mortgage markets.  He has built the financial
calculator Website, ezcalculator which is free to use and includes the calculator, "Pay Your
Credit Card Debt Quick."  Ezcalculator can be found at Mortgage Calculator or by going to