Paris Hilton is known to leave her credit cards behind in stores, but there are steps she (and other consumers) can take to avoid becoming the victim of unauthorized credit card charges.
Unfortunately for Paris Hilton and other forgetful credit card holders, such behavior leaves them wide open to theft and fraud. Unattended credit cards could easily fall into the wrong hands.
If you share this trait with Paris, there are steps you can take when you notice that a credit card is unaccounted for.
As soon as you realize your credit card is lost, call your card issuer to report it. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with just such emergencies. To be extra sure the lender is aware of your missing credit card, you can follow up with a letter that includes your account number, when you realized your card was missing and the date on which you initially reported the loss.
Additionally, be sure to check your credit card statement monthly (or even more frequently online) to look for any suspicious activity that could signal someone got hold of your card and is making unauthorized purchases. Luckily, most credit card issuers will only require you to pay the first $50 in unauthorized charges made on your credit card. If you report the loss before the credit card is used, the Fair Credit Billing Act states that you have zero liability for fraudulent purchases (as well as for poor-quality or damaged merchandise, or for merchandise that was never delivered).
Separately, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to find out if it covers your liability for credit card thefts. If it does not, some insurance companies will allow you to change your policy to include this protection.
So, to Paris Hilton and other consumers who leave a trail of credit cards everywhere they go, take heart. As long as you take action, your credit loss does not have to be a thief’s gain.