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Key takeaways

  • If you find a lost card, don't leave it where you found it. Instead, try to return it to a bank branch or call the customer support number on the back of the card.
  • After reporting a found credit card, the card issuer will likely cancel the card and issue a replacement to the owner.
  • If the card you've lost is your own, contact your card issuer as soon as possible to freeze your account and get a new card quickly.

Finding a lost credit card can put you in a tricky position. You may want to help return it to the card’s owner, but you might not know the right course of action. Here, we’ll walk you through the steps to take if you find someone’s credit card, including how to report it, how to dispose of it and what to do if the lost card is your own.

What to do if you find a lost credit card

  1. Don’t leave the card where you found it. A lost card can fall into the wrong hands, leading to fraudulent charges and withdrawals.
  2. Don’t try to find the owner yourself. Although it sounds like the right thing to do, you might end up handing the card over to the wrong person.
  3. Reach out to the bank for assistance. Call the number on the back of the card to report it found. If the card is issued by a nearby bank, you can also return it to a branch teller.
  4. Turn wallets over to the police. If you’ve found a wallet with cards in it, head to your local precinct and hand the wallet to an authorized officer without removing any of its contents. Don’t call 911, as this isn’t an emergency situation.

How to report a found credit card to a card company or issuer

If you find a lost credit card, report it directly to the credit card company by calling the customer support number on the back of the card. The bank or issuer will likely cancel the credit card to avoid fraudulent use and call its owner to get a replacement card issued right away

The card representative may ask you to destroy the card or provide additional direction as to how to return it to a local branch.

What to do if someone claims the found credit card is theirs

You may find yourself in a situation where a stranger insists the card you’ve found belongs to them. In that case, avoid handing it over unless they can show ID matching the name on the card or confirm personal information on the card, such as the full name on the card or even the brand of credit card.

If at any point you feel concerned the person isn’t being truthful, tell them you’d be more comfortable handing the card to a store clerk, bank branch or other authority figure. Or, tell them you’ve already reported the card as lost, and advise them to call their issuer for a replacement.

For your own safety, don’t continue the conversation if the situation becomes hostile.

How to correctly dispose of a found credit card

A pair of scissors can help you destroy a found credit card in a pinch:

  • For cards with a magnetic stripe — the dark track that runs along the back of the card — run a magnet along the strip to demagnetize the card, and then cut up the card with scissors.
  • For cards with a chip, you can either smash the chip or cut up the card with scissors, making sure to cut through the chip itself.

Metal cards may be more difficult to destroy, requiring tin snips or a visit to a local bank branch. For all cards, dispose of the card’s pieces in more than one trash bag or bin, if you can, to keep fraudsters from attempting to piece together the card number.

What to do if you lose your own credit card

If it’s you who’s lost a credit card, call your card issuer to report it and get a replacement card. Your issuer will likely freeze your card, preventing any new charges from going through. Even if somebody’s already used your card, the Fair Credit Billing Act limits the amount you’re on the hook for to $50 — though most issuers will refund the full amount to your account as a matter of course.

If your card was part of a wallet or purse you’ve lost, take extra steps to replace your driver’s license and other cards as soon as possible.

After your replacement card is in hand, update any automatic payments linked to your lost card with your replacement card’s details. Monitor your credit reports for suspicious activity, and look into fraud alerts for immediate notification if somebody tries to open up a new card in your name.

The bottom line

If you find a lost credit card, take fast action to protect the card’s owner against potential fraud. Report the card to the card’s bank or issuer, destroying it if a representative or other authority tells you to. If you ever lose your own credit card, call your card’s issuer right away for a replacement, and consider signing up for fraud alerts to be notified if anybody attempts to open a new credit line using your name.