Guide To Lost & Stolen Credit Cards

visa card

There is nothing worse than losing your wallet or having your cards stolen. What can you do though if the worse happens and you have your cards stolen?

If you've lost your credit card or suffered a stolen credit card, you must be very aware of identity theft!! Any fraudulent use of a Visa or MasterCard or any 'plastic', is governed by Sections 83 and 84 of the Consumer Credit Act.

The following guide explains how when you have suffered a stolen credit card, you will be protected from financial loss - but identity theft is something separate!

Notice of loss or misuse

If you realise that a credit card is missing, you must inform the credit card company as soon as possible, preferably by phone. You will find details of who to contact on the written credit card agreement that you received when the card was issued. If this information is not displayed prominently in the agreement, then you will not be legally responsible if your card is misused.

As soon as the credit card company has been informed of the loss, you cease to be liable for any lost or stolen credit card. The credit card company may require verbal notice of a loss followed by written confirmation, which must be received within 7 days. If this is the case, the written notice is needed to make the verbal notice effective.

Extent of liability

Once you have notified the credit card company of the loss of your card, your liability for its misuse will depend on whose possession it is in.

There is no limit to your liability if the person misusing the card has it with your permission and is usually permitted to draw on the account. For example, if your husband/wife is an additional cardholder on your account and exceeds his/her authority, you will be liable.

If your credit card was lost or stolen and you informed the credit card company immediately :

  • Your maximum liability will be £50 if the card has been used to buy goods from a shop
  • You will not be liable for any amount spent on goods ordered over the phone or the internet

Practical advice

  • Always keep your credit card agreement in a safe and accessible place
  • Inform the credit card company the minute you discover that your credit card is missing or has been stolen
  • When you inform the credit card company by phone, ask if they also need written confirmation
  • Never give your credit card to anyone unless you are certain they will not misuse it
  • Always destroy old or unwanted credit cards, do not simply throw them away

The information included in this article is based on the law applying on 1 January 2005. Please seek your own legal advice for more information regarding your rights.

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Further Reading

  • Prepaid Credit Cards

    Read our guide to prepaid credit cards and see the benefits you can gain from using one.
  • Help With Consumer Credit

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  • Best Business Credit Cards

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  • MBNA Credit Cards

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