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A lost or stolen credit card (or debit card) is an inconvenience, but it isn't necessarily a reason to panic. By knowing what steps to take, you can avoid major financial losses and get a replacement card in the mail as soon as possible. Here's what you need to know if you find yourself with a lost or stolen debit or credit card.

Buy Yourself Time

If you're not sure if you lost your card, left it at a restaurant, or simply put it in the wrong coat pocket, give yourself time to find it while still protecting your finances. Many cards allow you to place a temporary lock on your card, so that you can check all of the places you saw it last. And with your bank's mobile app, locking and unlocking your card and setting up alerts are easier than ever.

Check Your Account

Some banks will automatically notify you of fraudulent charges, but it's smart to check your recent transactions no matter what. While most transactions show the vendor and a short description, some may include a code that needs deciphering. Call your bank if you're unsure about one of the charges.

If you see purchases you didn't make, notify your bank immediately. You'll want to point out charges you didn't make and cancel the card. And don't wait: if your card doesn't have zero liability fraud protection, you could be on the hook for some of the unauthorized charges. Even if you can verify all of the charges, keep an eye on your account to make sure nothing else posts. Once your new card is activated, change your online banking passwords — just in case.

Report Immediately

For those moments when a tollbooth eats your card, you drop it into a lake, or you've checked under every couch cushion and still can't find it, you'll want to request a replacement card as soon as possible. Not only will this prevent others from using your card if they find it, but it also means that you're one step closer to getting a replacement card. If you're replacing a debit or credit card, consider updating your PIN number for extra protection.

Access Cash

If you misplaced your debit card and don't have a backup, you may find it harder to get cash when you need it without the convenience of an ATM. However, you can still access cash by going to your bank in person.

If you're traveling in an area where you don't have access to your bank, particularly overseas, your options may be more limited. While you can use your credit card at ATMs, you'll need a PIN for cash advances. Another option is to wire money to an in-person cash-pickup location. If you'll be staying for an extended period of time, you can talk to your bank about expediting your replacement card to your hotel or other accommodation.

What Next

Check to see if your card offers additional identity theft monitoring. For example, some cardholders can benefit from ID Theft Resolution services. They'll make sure your personal information isn't being bought or sold online, and walk you through what to do if it is.

It's always a good idea to have a list of customer service numbers handy as back up to the numbers on the back of your card. It's also beneficial to get into the habit of checking your account transactions and routinely changing your passwords. As long as you know what steps to take if you misplace a card or have a wallet or purse stolen, you'll be able to keep calm and protect your finances.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on www.Key.com, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend, or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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