Can a stolen credit card damage your credit score?

Can a stolen credit card damage your credit score?

November 11, 2016
stolen credit card

There’s a very popular credit card joke that’s shared all over social media these days. It goes something like this:

Man, to friend: “A thief has stolen my wife’s credit card. Last month he ran up a bill of over a thousand pounds.”
“That’s terrible,” says the friend. “You should report this thief to the police.”
“I would,” says the man. “But at the moment he’s spending less than my wife does.”

Although very funny, this joke is still a joke and should not be taken seriously. No matter how responsible the thief is, you should report a stolen credit card as soon as possible. It’s the only way to make sure that your credit score won’t be damaged.

What happens when you report a stolen credit card

You might think that once you lose your credit card or it gets stolen, your credit card company will close the account. This is not true. What they do is simply transfer your information to a new account. The new account includes the open date and transaction history, so no changes occur to your score.

Threats to your credit score

There are numerous ways a thief could hurt you by stealing your credit card. The worst way is through debt. If the thief racks up charges and you don’t pay the balance, your score will definitely be affected.

And there’s always a chance, although small, that your credit card company won’t want to issue a new credit card. This can happen if you haven’t been making your payments on time and if your credit score has decreased since you first got the card.

What to do when dealing with a stolen credit card

The first and most important thing that you have to do is call your credit card company. Once you notice that your card is gone, call your company, even before you call the cops. The sooner you do it, the sooner your credit card will be canceled. This way, the thief won’t be able to use it.

If the thief does use it, you can review the most recent transactions with the representative from your credit card company. You can dispute any transaction you did not make. You won’t be responsible for them and they won’t be reported to the credit bureaus.

For additional peace of mind, you have to keep tabs on your credit report. According to the law, you are allowed to review your full credit report once per year for free, so take advantage of this.

Thomas Hookton

Thomas Hookton is a finance journalist, history buff and science fiction connoisseur. Hit him up via email.

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