No one wants to find a credit card missing from his or her wallet or discover an odd charge on a monthly billing statement. But credit card loss, theft and fraud happen. Take heart: It's probably not the financial disaster you're imagining it could be.
More than 11.6 million Americans were victims of some kind of identity fraud in 2011, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. Of those, 9.64 million experienced fraud where someone used their credit card or credit card number illegally.
Fortunately, that's a much milder invasion into someone's personal finances and an easier problem to solve compared with true identity fraud.
"The good news is that it's not as ominous as you think," says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com. "Really, inconvenience is the most significant part of credit card fraud as long as it doesn't bleed over to true-name fraud."
Still, no one likes an inconvenience. Here, Bankrate.com outlines four steps to recognizing and recovering from credit card fraud.