What to do if your credit card is lost or stolen

Even the best laid plans have their faults. Imagine carrying a purse full of every day things including a cell phone like the Motorola MC35 and having that bag ripped right out of your hands. Suddenly everything you have and everything you worked for is gone. Many of us would probably panic and worry about what to do next, but it's actually fairly easy to take those next steps. Regardless of how it happens, if you lose your credit or debit card or it gets stolen, you need to report it right away.

Most credit card companies and financial institutions have a system in place to protect their customers. They remove any unauthorized charges on the user's account. However for the company to do this, they need to know right away. This helps them identify the fraudulent charges and keep those separate from any charges the customer made.

That's why the majority of these companies have a 24 hour toll-free number for customers to call in the case of an emergency. Even if you don't have your credit card number on hand, they can look up that information for you right away. They also require that you let them know the exact date when the card was lost or stolen, as well as the time if that's known. If you notice any unusual charges on your account, let them know about that as well.

Resources on reporting lost or stolen credit cards include:

Experts recommend that consumers follow some steps to reduce the chances of their card number being stolen. This includes keeping the cards locked away when not in use and destroying bills as soon as they're paid. They can even run that number through a credit card reader to make purchases. This prevents people from stealing those numbers from the garbage or inadvertently coming across their financial records. It also reduces the chances of someone using another person's credit card for their own use.