Act Promptly To Report Missing Credit and Debit Cards and Suspicious Credit Charges
By: R. Kurtz (Kurt) Holloway and Elizabeth Lester, project intern and contributing author
This is article nine in a series of articles written to inform and help victims of identity theft. The previous eight parts of the series have dealt with steps to take if you find yourself a victim of identity theft, documents to file, alerts or freezes to place on your credit report, ways to block or dispute fraudulent information, and ways that Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) are required to help you under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This article discusses what to do if your credit or bank cards are lost or fraudulently used. To access this entire series check here.
Missing Debit Card:
If you believe your debit card has been lost or stolen, it is important that you immediately notify the card issuer. This can be by phone or in writing. The longer you wait the greater the cost to you will be both directly and in the time and effort it takes to resolve any fraudulent use issues.
- If you report your card missing within two business days, you will only be held responsible for no more than $50 of any money stolen before you reported.
- If you wait longer than those two days but within 60 days of the date your bank statement is mailed to you, your liability is limited to $500.
- After that 60 day period you can lose all the money in your account and also any funds advanced from a credit line you use to protect your account from overdrafts!
- You should follow up a phone call to the bank with a letter sent by certified mail and return receipt requested so that you have proof that you took the necessary first step to report the theft. The bank then has ten days to investigate the matter and report to you.
Missing Credit Card:
- By law your liability for fraudulent use of a credit card is limited to $50 of any fraudulent charge which occurred before you reported the card lost or stolen. You are not liable for any charges after your report.
Suspicious Credit Charges:
- You must report any suspected fraud with 60 days of the date of your card statement showing the fraudulent activity in order to benefit from the consumer protections under The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). Those protections are described in the previous articles of this series.
- You should send a letter describing the suspected fraudulent charge and the ID Theft Report or Affidavit, explained in article 4, to the billing inquiry address of the company.
- Once you give notice, you are no longer responsible for the disputed payment during the time of investigation though you still need to pay the rest of the bill.
- The creditor must then investigate and explain the decision which has been reached regarding your statement and can be penalized if the correct and timely procedure is not followed.
It is necessary to stay alert to any missing cards and to all of your billing statements so as to identify and correct any errors. Prompt reporting is crucial to a full recovery from identity theft.
You will find more detailed information about resolving your identity theft situation at the FTC website, www.ftc.gov. A knowledgeable consumer law attorney can also guide you through the process, help you assert your rights and restore your financial reputation. Contact Kurt Holloway for help at 610-323-7464.