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Spending Limits

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Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock Privacy Cards to the first merchant they’re used at to prevent misuse if stolen

Single-Use Cards

Create Privacy Cards that close automatically after the first purchase is made on them

Pause/Close Cards

Pause or close your Privacy Cards at any time to block future transaction attempts

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Lost Credit Card—A Guide to Protecting Your Identity and Financial Information

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Oct 5, 2023
 Min Read

Losing a credit card can happen to us all, and the consequences can be devastating if the loss is not reported in a timely manner. Whether you think someone has stolen your credit card or you misplaced it yourself, your financial information is put in jeopardy. Individuals who steal or find your lost credit card can use it for malicious purposes, such as fraudulent purchases or identity theft, causing significant financial, reputational, and emotional distress.

The Nilson Report predicts that total losses in card fraud in the U.S. will go over $165 billion within the next 10 years. To avoid becoming part of these alarming statistics, you should educate yourself on what to do if you lose a credit card.

Besides revealing which steps to take when losing a credit card, this article will also clarify:

What To Do When You Lose Your Credit Card?

An image of a person taking out a card from a black wallet
Source: Liza Summer

Once you determine your credit card is missing, it is crucial to take the following steps immediately:

  1. Contact your bank or credit card issuer.
  2. Request a replacement card.
  3. Update the billing information for recurring payments.

Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Issuer

As soon as you realize you’ve lost your credit card, notify your bank or credit union. The Fair Credit Billing Act protects most consumers as long as the credit card loss or fraud is reported promptly.

Once you report the loss of your credit card, you will not be held responsible for any purchases someone else may make with it. If your credit card has been used fraudulently before you reported the loss, federal law generally limits your liability to $50. However, most banks have zero liability policies for their customers and typically won’t hold them responsible even for the $50.

Some banks offer users the option to freeze lost or stolen cards from their account interface. If your bank has an online app, visit the self-service section and look for the option to freeze your lost credit card. Then, you can report the loss by doing any of the following:

  • Calling the credit card issuer—You can typically find the credit card issuer’s number on their website or on your credit card statement.
  • Connecting to a customer service representative via chat—Check the issuer’s website for a web chat feature and write a message.

In order to confirm your identity, be prepared to provide personal details such as your full name, Social Security number, address, and date of birth to the customer service representative. They will also ask you when you noticed the card was missing and whether any fraudulent purchases took place in the meantime.

After the credit card issuer processes your report, they will cancel your credit card, ensuring that no one can use it for unauthorized transactions.

Request a Replacement Card

The process to request a replacement card may vary from issuer to issuer. In most cases, the bank or credit union will send a replacement for free after canceling your lost credit card. It typically takes 3–7 days for the replacement card to arrive by mail. You may be able to pay extra for overnight shipping if you need the replacement fast—check with your credit card issuer whether that is an option.

Update the Billing Information for Recurring Payments

A close-up image of a hand holding a debit card
Source: Pixabay

If you have automatic payments such as bills and subscriptions set up on your credit card, the next step is to update every account with your new billing information. 

Once the credit card issuer deactivates your lost credit card, the recurring payments will be declined, which can lead to late payment penalties. It’s crucial to update your billing information as soon as you receive the replacement card. 

After you receive your new card, the steps involved are typically the following:

  1. Access your subscription accounts 
  2. Navigate to the billing section
  3. Remove the lost credit card from your account
  4. Add the replacement card’s number, CVC, and expiration date

You can also call the merchant in question to give them your new card number.

After the first billing cycle of your replacement card, check your credit statements to confirm all automatic payments have gone through. If they haven’t, notify the customer support team of the associated service to ensure the card details are updated.

Additional Steps To Take After Replacing a Lost Credit Card

Once you replace your lost credit card, you can take some additional steps to protect yourself from fraud and avoid losing it in the future:

  • Keep checking your credit card statements—The statements will reveal whether your lost credit card has been misused. If you see any transactions you don’t recognize, notify your credit card issuer immediately to limit your liability.
  • Don’t carry all your credit cards with you—Carrying all your credit cards imposes the risk of losing them all if you misplace your wallet or purse.
  • Consider switching to digital wallets—You can add your credit card to a digital wallet such as Apple Pay or Google Pay and use it wherever mobile payments are allowed. 

Note that your credit card information is not safe even if you stop carrying your physical card with you. Card-not-present fraud has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, making up for 73% of the total card payment fraud loss in 2023, so it’s crucial to adopt security practices to protect your financial data from hackers.

The Dangers of Exposing Your Credit and Debit Card Data During Transactions

Online transactions have become one of the most vulnerable points for data breaches. Stolen data such as Social Security numbers, biometric data, and personally identifiable information (PII) fuel the trillion-dollar cyber fraud network

Leaving your real credit or debit card data on merchants’ websites is risky as a skilled hacker can break through servers’ defenses, access your sensitive information, and use it to:

  • Make fraudulent transactions
  • Create fake credit cards
  • Apply for loans in your name
  • Sell your data on the dark web

Cyberattacks have become more and more sophisticated over time, which is why it is crucial to apply security practices against online data theft. Those include:

  • Creating unique and strong passwords for different accounts—Make sure your passwords combine capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to make them as difficult to guess as possible. It’s also crucial to ensure you never use the same password twice in case a website’s systems get hacked. Consider using a password manager like 1Password to manage and securely store your passwords.
  • Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA)—This method entails an additional identification measure besides your password, ensuring a potential hacker cannot access your account with only your login credentials. 
  • Avoiding transactions on suspicious websites—Always look for a “htttps://” prefix in the URL, signifying a secure connection.
  • Using virtual cards—A virtual card provides an integral security layer against cyberattacks by masking your real card and bank account information during online transactions. While a virtual card is tied to your actual card or bank account, it has a unique 16-digit number, CVC code, and expiration date you can use for online purchases. Many banks offer virtual cards to their customers, but the best option is signing up for an independent virtual card provider, such as Privacy, offering robust security measures and comprehensive control and customization options.

Minimize the Risks of Stolen Financial Data With Privacy

Privacy Virtual Cards safeguard your debit card and bank account data from being compromised during online transactions. If a breach on a merchant’s website occurs, the hacker can only access your virtual card data while your real financial information remains protected. With Privacy, you can create two types of virtual cards:

Merchant-Locked Cards
These cards lock to the first merchant you use them at. If a hacker gets hold of the virtual card data, they won’t be able to use it elsewhere. Merchant-Locked Cards are perfect for subscriptions and recurring payments.
Single-Use Cards Single-Use Cards close soon after the first transaction, rendering them useless to potential hackers. This card type is best for websites that are unfamiliar to you or those whose security practices you don’t necessarily trust.

Additional Benefits of Using Privacy

Privacy provides additional features to help you manage your finances and make seamless online transactions:

Feature Benefit
Closing/pausing virtual cards You can pause or close Privacy Cards instantly without affecting your real card or bank data. This feature prevents overcharging and unwanted subscription fees as Privacy will block any attempts to authorize a paused or closed virtual card.
Customizable spending limits Privacy allows you to set spending limits on each card, enabling greater control over your budget and preventing sneaky merchants from overcharging you.
Browser extension Privacy browser extensions allow fast checkouts by autofilling payment fields with virtual card details. Get the browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari and enjoy quick and spontaneous purchases without having to look for your wallet or memorize card numbers.
Mobile apps Generate and use virtual cards on the go with the Privacy mobile app. The iOS and Android apps also allow you to keep track of your account activity in real time. You can enable push notifications to get alerted whenever a transaction has been approved or declined.

Sign Up for Privacy

To start using Privacy, you need to:

  1. Create an account
  2. Enter the details required to verify your identity 
  3. Connect your bank account or debit card
  4. Request and generate your first Privacy Card

Privacy currently offers a basic plan, which is free for domestic transactions, and two paid plans for users with more advanced needs. 

Take a look at the table below for a quick overview:

Plan Price Feature
Personal $0/month* - Up to 12 virtual cards
- Spending limits
- Browser extensions
- Mobile apps
- Pausing and closing virtual cards
Pro $10/month - Everything in Personal
- Up to 36 virtual cards
- 1% cashback on eligible purchases totaling up to $4,500 a month
- Discreet merchants (ability to mask the transaction information on your bank statements)
- No foreign transaction fees
- Priority support
Premium $25/month - Everything in Pro
- Up to 60 virtual cards
- Dedicated account management

All Privacy plans offer bank-level security with a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Sensitive data collected from users is stored in single-tenant hardware and protected by split-key encryption. The company regularly goes through rigorous third-party audits and holds itself to the same PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) requirements as your bank or credit union.

Lost Credit Cards FAQ

The following sections contain answers to common questions users have about lost credit cards.

Will Replacing My Lost Credit Card Damage My Credit Score?

A desk with a marker, a calculator, a magnifying glass, and two pieces of paper on it
Source: RDNE Stock Project

Some of the crucial factors that influence your credit score are payment history and the length of your credit history, so it may seem that replacing a lost card will negatively affect your credit score. 

You shouldn’t worry as your credit score will not be damaged by replacing your lost credit card with a new one. While you will receive a card with a new number, your account number will remain the same for the purpose of credit reporting. Still, you should take the following steps to avoid any issues with your credit score:

  • Pay the outstanding balance on your old credit card—You are liable for all charges you incurred on your old credit card before it was deactivated. Make sure to cover the outstanding balance to avoid damaging your payment history.
  • Watch out for any unauthorized activity on your account—Closely monitor your credit reports in months after your credit card was lost to keep track of any suspicious activity.
  • Check your credit card statements for the signs of identity theft—It is advisable to freeze your credit profile with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) if you fear you might become a victim of identity theft.

Can I Track My Lost Credit Card?

While your card may have an EMV or a smart chip, it cannot be used to track your lost credit card.

One way to narrow down the location of your credit card is to check where the most recent transaction was made and monitor your account for fraudulent purchases. Bear in mind that the transactions may take days to show up on your account, and even then, you might not have enough information to get the location.

The best course of action is to immediately report the loss of your credit card to your issuer. If a large fraudulent transaction has been made, your credit card issuer may involve bank investigators and even law enforcement to track down your card. The investigation process involves advanced technology and aims to locate your card by identifying:

  • Transaction timestamps and IP address
  • Geolocation of transactions
  • Buyer’s data and further account activity

What To Do When You Find Someone's Credit Card?

An image of a white payment with “Jane Doe” and an Apple logo printed on it
Source: blocks

Sometimes, you may end up on the flip side and find someone else’s lost credit card. You can:

  • Hand over the card to someone with authority, such as a restaurant manager, store employee, or security guard—The card owner will likely retrace their steps and contact the establishment to ask about their credit card. While leaving the card with an employee may be the quickest solution, remember that a credit card in the hands of anyone except the owner can lead to unauthorized use.

Call the card issuing bank or credit union and report that you have found someone’s credit card—A safer choice is to call the toll-free number on the back of the credit card and report you found it. The card issuer will notify the owner and take the necessary steps, such as canceling the card and issuing a replacement.

Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy virtual cards
Spending Limits

Set a spending limit, and Privacy will block all charges that go over the limit

Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock your Privacy card to one merchant you frequently shop from

Single-Use Cards

Secure your one-time payments to websites whose trust worthiness you're unsure of

Pause/Close Cards

By pausing or closing a card, Privacy will block all future transactions

Get a Privacy Card Now
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Sign Up