Cash is so outdated. Who carries cash anymore in this digital age? Plastic is the new greenback. Your credit cards are your lifelines, and you buy everything from your morning coffee to your groceries to your adult DVDs with them (don’t worry, your cardholder doesn’t think any less of you). So what happens with your lifelines are stolen? Besides feeling totally violated, you’re worried that your privacy and credit rating have been compromised. And, you don’t want to be liable for the shopping spree the thief is probably about to go on (I know someone who had their card stolen once, and the thief bought thousands of dollars worth of Omaha steaks). If your cards have been stolen, it’s important to take action as soon as you realize it. Here’s what to do.

Be Positive They Were Actually Stolen

If you notice your credit cards are missing, it might cause you to immediately panic. Before you start calling the police (don’t do this at all) and accusing everyone in sight (also a bad idea), take a deep breath and think. Are you positive they were actually stolen? Is it possible that you simply misplaced them? Did your spouse borrow them without telling you? Retrace your steps since you last used them, and check under the couch cushions if necessary. Do not spend days looking for them, but take a few extra minutes to double check. If you report your card stolen and then find it later, you only created an unnecessary hassle for yourself.

Notify Your Cardholders ASAP

The most crucial step is to notify your cardholders as soon as you can. Do not wait a few days. Call them as soon as you notice they’re missing and you’re sure they’re gone for good. After you tell your credit card companies, you won’t be liable for any fraudulent charges. If you wait too long, there’s a possibility to could be liable for a portion of the fraudulent charges that were made after you realized the cards were missing and didn’t tell anyone. The federal Fair Credit Billing Act is a very helpful law, and with it having your credit cards stolen doesn’t have to be a life-threatening event.

From here on out, check your statements very carefully for any charges you didn’t make (and also notify your cardholders as soon as you see any). You don’t need to notify the police. However, if you know who stole your credit cards, you might want to consider going to the station and making a report and possibly filing charges to protect others from the same fate.

Learn a Lesson and Be More Careful Next Time

Having your credit cards stolen is a scary and stressful experience. You should learn from it, though, and take steps to protect yourself from it happening again. Keep your credit cards in a very safe location that only you have access to. Don’t carry them all around with you at once; only bring the card or cards you’ll need that day. Also, don’t write your card number and PIN down anywhere. Take proactive steps to protect yourself, and hopefully your card won’t be used to purchase a ton of Porterhouses ever again.

Terry Ford is a copious writer with over 500 published pieces. Terry edits her work using Grammarly grammar checker a tool designed to address the most common writing mistakes. Grammarly adapts to various writing styles and provides educational insight.