As soon as you realise that your wallet with cards in it, call the respective banks’ helplines for blocking the cards.

Thirty two-year-old Pune resident Omkar Patil’s wallet got stolen in May 2019 while shopping in a market. He is a marketing executive at a real estate developer’s organisation. As he commutes to many cities on work, he uses multiple cards to pay for hotel bills, fuel expenses, flight tickets, etc. So, at any particular time, his wallet would contain at least six cards. His wallet had two debit cards and four credit cards from different banks when it was stolen. What if you were to face a situation similar to Omkar’s? Worse, what do you do when your cards get stolen when you are travelling abroad? Here are four steps to get you started when your cards are stolen or if you lose them.

Block the cards

As soon as you realise that your wallet with cards in it, call the respective banks’ helplines for blocking the cards. You can get the contact number of your bank’s call centre from its website or your card. However, double-check customer care numbers shared on internet search engines or on social media because impostors could be operating those call centres.

You can also block your cards immediately using the net banking facility or by sending an SMS in the format specified by your bank.

Alternatively, you can report the loss of your card and block it by visiting a bank branch. However, this will be time-consuming process. Remember, after you report that your card is lost or stolen and ask for it to be blocked, you won’t be liable for any transactions on the card in case it’s misused. However, if someone steals your card and spends before you report the loss, the liability falls on you.

You will receive an SMS confirmation that the card is blocked as also an email. Preserve this information for future reference.

Register an FIR at nearest police station

The second step will be to visit the nearest police station to register a first information report (FIR). The FIR copy from the police acts as a proof of robbery. So, in case someone misuses the lost cards, you are not held liable. You should always register an FIR with the police if you lose your wallet with cards while travelling abroad. “The FIR copy is also useful for applying for duplicate cards with some of the banks and to apply for other important documents such as driving licence, vehicle registration card, etc. in case they are lost with the wallet,” says Omkar.

Review your card statements and credit reports

Your job’s not done yet. Closely review your card and bank statements for a couple of months after reporting the loss of your card. If you notice any entries or transactions that you haven’t done in the statements, approach your bank immediately for clarification and raise a complaint, if needed.

Later, apply for a credit report from one of the following agencies: TransUnion CIBIL, Equifax Credit Information Services, Experian Credit Information Company of India. You can apply for one credit report free of cost in a year from a credit bureau. However, do not apply for a credit report immediately after losing the cards details take time to get updated with the bureaus.

Reapply only for cards you really need

When your credit card is stolen and you block it, it still remains active at the bank’s end. You just need to reapply for your card. Before reapplying, analyse the usage of each card in the last couple of years. If you observe that some cards were just lying idle in your wallet, then it’s better to formally close those credit card accounts instead of applying for new cards. You will save on annual fees and reissue charges.

Preventive measures

It’s important that you maintain a record of all your cards for easy reference. This should include details of bank account numbers, cards, expiration dates and call centre/helpline numbers. This is especially useful if you’re travelling abroad and your cards get stolen there.

Do not share credit and debit card numbers, one-time passwords, CVV details, etc. on phone when you call the bank to report the loss of your card.

You should use technology to temporarily block cards in case they are not in use. This will help to protect your cards from any fraudulent activity or misuse if stolen. For instance ICICI bank provides this feature through its mobile application. Similarly, Axis bank provides a switch-off option to its customers.

Additionally, you can opt for the card protection plan (CPP) provided by banks such as SBI and ICICI. Using CPP, you can safeguard credit, debit, loyalty and membership cards. In case of card loss or theft that may have occurred anywhere in the world, you can report at one place as the service is available 24*7. The bank that provides this insurance cover will inform all card issuers and ask them to block/cancel the cards. The annual premium varies from bank to bank and based on the plan you opt for. For instance, SBI charges a premium of Rs 1,649-Rs 2,599 (including GST), while for ICICI bank the figure is Rs 1,599-Rs 2,499 (including GST).

You can register multiple cards and renew the CPP every year by the paying premium. Certain customers feel paying premium for CPP is an expensive proposition. But, it’s recommended that you take at least one such plan, especially if you travel frequently.

Before taking card a protection plan, understand the terms and conditions of the scheme and compare the benefits.

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