There is no sensation out there that sucks more for a credit card holder than realising that their card is missing. It may be because of forgetfulness on your part or somebody else actually took it from you without you noticing, the fact remains that your credit card is not where it should be: on your person.
However, there is a bigger problem you would have to face: dealing with the repercussions of having your card lost and/or stolen. This also begs the question: will reporting the card as lost or stolen hurt your credit score? The answer is “not really”
However, how you respond to the loss or theft will matter in preserving your score.
So what can you expect to happen if you do lose your credit card? For starters, the person who found or took your card will attempt to use it. If they do find a way to use it, every transaction they make with the card will be charged to you since your name is on it.
Then, there is the fact that your monthly payments won’t be recognised by the credit card company if you don’t transfer your information to a new account. Everything from subscriptions to memberships and even your utility bills would be declined and thus sent to a debt collection agency. Of course, these companies report to credit reference agencies and since collection accounts are marked as derogatory on a credit report, your credit score will considerably lower in the next report.
Lastly, the lost or theft of a credit card triggers a review of your entire credit history when you apply for a replacement or cancellation. A report might not be that worrying if you have a history of good payments but it would be if you have a lot of delinquent payments on it. At worse, the company might deem you unfit for the account and close it. Simply put, not only are you put in an inconvenience since you no longer have a cart to use but your credit score has been severely affected.
If you do lose your card, the credit card company will still hold you liable for any charge that card has. This means that, technically speaking, you will still be paying for whatever fees that card has. Fortunately, this won’t last long as the credit card company is required by law to only hold you liable for the first few charges. Depending on the company, you may be liable for a fee as small as £15.00 to as much as £40.00. Of course, not paying these charges will hurt your credit score in the long run.
However, if the credit card was reported stolen, you won’t be held liable for any charges that card incurs. The reason for this is simple: the loss of the card wasn’t your fault so it stands to reason that the company should not hold you accountable for it. However, you need to inform the company of the theft as soon as possible as any charges that that card incurs before the report will still be included as part of your debts and refusing to pay for it would, of course, lead to the same negative impact on your score.
When you do report that your card was lost or stolen, the credit card company will provide you with several options. Whatever option you will choose will have an effect on your credit score so it’s best to weigh in on the pros and cons of each route first before you make your decision.
Naturally, the credit card company will suggest to you to transfer everything from your old account onto a new one. With a replacement, every detail of your payment history will be preserved from the debts you settled to the debts you still owe.
This means that losing your credit card would not be a detrimental thing for you especially if you have a good payment history. On the flip side, however, you can’t expect the loss of your card to wipe away your payment history forever. If you have outstanding payments or your account has been marked as delinquent, those problems would just migrate from your old account to the new one.
You might think that canceling the card for being lost or stolen would be a good way to preserve your score but, in actuality, it is not. As a matter of fact, canceling the credit card for being lost or stolen would be treated the same way as any cancellation.
Simply put, canceling that account for having its card lost or stolen would mean that every available credit on that card is suddenly wiped away. If a large portion of your available credit is removed, your credit utilisation ratio has suddenly shifted as you have now fewer available credit compared to credit you have already used. In some instances, you might have more used credit than available credit, lowering your overall credit score by several points.
You might think that losing your card might be a good opportunity for you to upgrade. However, there’s a problem with this: before the company grants your request for an upgrade, they will have to make sure that you even qualify for it in the first place.
So what do they have to do to make sure that you qualify? They would request for a hard search on your credit information which slightly puts a dent on your credit score. However, if they do know that you qualify since you have a good payment history and approve of the upgrade immediately, then the upgrade should not affect your score at all.
Upon the moment that you are certain that your credit card is lost or stolen, there are several things that you have to do to make sure that the worst effects of having a lost/stolen card are mitigated at least.
This goes without saying but the first thing that you have to do is report that your card is no longer in your possession. This way, the company can make certain that that card can no longer be used by whoever has it currently. This is quite important especially if your card was stolen as whoever stole it would definitely try to make use of it as soon as possible.
Contacting the company of your card’s current status can even help you in disputing your credit report. When the representative of that company is in contact with you, they will surely make a quick review of your most recent payments. By noting the date and time, they can help in disputing transactions not made by you.
This would also be an opportunity to clarify with the company how they would report your lost card to the credit reference agencies. Just make sure that the company has policies that require them to merge your old account with the new one for reporting purposes. This way, your credit history is one continuous timeline which should not affect your credit score.
You should also make a list of every automatic payment assigned to that card. Monthly ones are easy to remember but also remember if that card has biennial, annual, or quarterly payments as these are the ones that tend to affect your credit score the most.
In most cases, it would take weeks for a replacement card to be sent to you so it means that you must pay your dues. As such, it would be better if you contact those businesses of your situation so that they can make arrangements and delete your old card from their records.
Monitoring your credit report is a good way of preventing the credit card company of closing your account after issuing a review. Take the time to know what kinds of derogatory information that could get the attention of most credit card companies. If you know what creditors will be looking for when reviewing your account, you can effectively dispute them and avoid the worst. Fortunately, credit reference agencies have a statutory obligation to provide you with your credit file and charge you no more than £2. Use this to your advantage so you can avoid red flags in your credit report.
Reporting your credit card as lost or stolen will not directly affect your credit score. It’s the things that you do after in dealing with the situation that will determine whether your credit score remains as it is, it moves up by a few points, or suffer tremendously.
The point is that you must be quick enough to notify everyone concerned of the loss/theft so that they, on their part, can do whatever is necessary to help you protect your credit’s reputation. It’s like having a disease, really. The quicker you can know that something is wrong and notify the authorities of such, the better it will be for you in the long run.
Have you had your credit card lost or stolen? Or have you dreaded of it being lost or stolen? What other methods do you think you can use to prevent it from hurting your credit score? Let us know in the comments below.