If your credit card has been lost or stolen, you need to file a credit card fraud alert. Start by calling your credit card company and getting your card cancelled. They will arrange to send you a new card and also send you the correct forms for filing a fraud alert.
Fill the forms out promptly and get them sent in in a timely manner. The longer you wait the worse the situation can get. Like I said, it doesn't matter if the card was lost or stolen, the result can be the same. If you have only lost your card and someone finds it, they can use it fraudulently and get you in all kinds of trouble and essentially make your life a living hell until you get everything straightened out. If it was stolen, you will have the same problem. Report the loss or theft as soon as you can and get the credit card fraud alert filed. You will be glad you did.
When calling the credit bureaus remember you will only need to inform one of them, the one you report to will contact the other two for you. Filing a fraud alert with the credit bureaus allows them to advise your creditor that you may be a victim of identity theft. If someone then tries to get more credit the credit bureau should contact you to verify that it is you who is doing the asking and not the identity thief.
The initial fraud alert will stay on file for 90 days from the time you file. The 90 day fraud alert is used if you suspect that you may be the victim of identity theft or could become one. So, use this fraud alert if your credit card gets lost or there is a possibility that it was stolen or you suspect some of your mail has been stolen but you really have no proof that any theft has really occurred. 90 days is long enough to ferret out any would be identity thief. Always file a police report, just in case.
The other type of fraud alert is called an Extended Fraud Alert and last for seven years. You file an extended fraud alert in the same manner as the 90 day variety with the difference being the credit bureaus require that you also file an identity theft report. This is where the police report comes in handy as you will need a copy of the police report to file along with the form from the credit bureau.
I had a scare at the beginning of this year. All of a sudden I had stopped receiving my check stubs in the mail and then did not receive my W-2's for taxes. When I went in to the main office of my job and asked about it they gave me the login information to get my check stubs online. That is when I noticed that the address on my check stubs was incorrect and they were going to some place in a whole other state. I filed a police report just in case something ever came of it. Nothing did, though, to my relief.
This just goes to show that you cannot be too careful and although this was not a credit card, if you lose you credit card or it gets stolen, it is very important to file a credit card fraud alert.