When should you call your credit card issuer?

Many people get routine calls from their credit card issuer. Offers of lower rates, balance transfer opportunities, insurance offers. But when should you be the one to call? Knowing what to look for and when to contact your card issuer can be the best way to stop fraudulent activity and avoid any inconvenience with card service.

Staying ahead of the game is simple when you follow these tips for managing your credit card accounts.

1. New credit card arrival.
Call the activation number on the credit card when your new card arrives in the mail. This lets your credit card company know that the card has been received by the correct person.

2. Unauthorized credit card use.
Call your credit card company right away if your statement includes purchases that do not look familiar. If there are charges appearing from California and you have not been to California, call. Even if you think a charge may have been made by a spouse or family member or aren’t sure of the vendor’s name, you should still call. Better to be safe than sorry. The issuer can cancel the account number and issue a new card if the charges in question turn out to be fraudulent.

3. Lost or stolen credit card.
It is better to cancel the account and get a new card number than to wait for the missing card to show up, even if you think it is simply misplaced. If you can’t remember where you last used your card, it may have been taken without your knowing. If you are certain it was stolen, call law enforcement and your credit card company immediately.

4. Big trips and large purchases.
Always notify your credit card company when traveling and using credit cards away from home or if you're planning unusually big purchases. Otherwise, your account might be flagged for potential fraudulent activity because of the unusual activity, and issuers in some cases might block your use of the account until they can confirm that the charges are legitimate. A proactive phone call from you can prevent frustrating delays when using your card.

To read more on when you should contact your credit card company, visit MSN's website.