How to Report Credit Card Fraud

Discovering you’re the victim of credit card or debit card fraud is an incredibly stressful experience. After the initial shock, your mind may be reeling with questions like:

“How did this happen?”

“How can someone use my debit card without having it?”

“Am I responsible for fraudulent charges?”

“How can I prevent credit card fraud from happening again?”

It’s a confusing time, but not to worry. Here are some steps you can take if your credit or debit card has been compromised and how to prevent credit and debit card fraud in the future.

What is credit card and debit card fraud?

Credit card fraud is a type of identity theft that involves an unauthorized user charging purchases to your credit or debit card. This type of fraud also occurs if someone removes funds from your bank account via a stolen debit card.

In many cases of credit card fraud, the thief doesn’t need to physically steal your card; they only need to obtain your debit or credit card number.

Many instances of credit card fraud involve unauthorized purchases. When your debit card is compromised, however, the thief can access the money in your savings and checking accounts.

Fortunately, many card issuers will reimburse amounts lost due to fraudulent activity — but you do need to report credit card fraud.

How can I report credit card or debit card fraud?

It’s important to act as soon as you notice any unauthorized charges on your account. Keeping a detailed account of what happened can help you convey the proper information when you do report credit card fraud.

Write down when you noticed the fraudulent activity, the time and date it occurred, and any other relevant information. Include specific dates, times, and monetary amounts. Then, when you contact your debit or credit card issuer, note the name of the representative you spoke with. These details will help when the card issuer or local authorities investigate your case.

What to do if you are a victim of fraud

Don’t wait to report credit card fraud. As soon as you notice that your debit or credit card is compromised, here’s what you should do:

1. Contact your card issuer

Call your card issuer immediately. Many credit card companies have a dedicated line for reporting suspicious or fraudulent activity that you can call seven days a week. However, if your debit card is compromised, you may need to call your bank or credit union during regular business hours, especially if you bank with a small, local branch.

Be sure to include as much detail as possible in your credit card fraud report and inquire about your liability. By law, credit card companies are obligated to investigate the matter and remove fraudulent charges, but only if it is reported within 60 days after the account statement reflects the charge. In many cases, you won’t be responsible for any amount.

2. Change your account passwords

After notifying your bank or credit card company, it’s vital to change your account password as soon as possible.

Since many instances of credit card fraud occur due to hacking, you should also update other passwords and PINs associated with your financial accounts, even those not yet affected.

3. Contact the credit bureaus

It’s also a smart idea to notify all three major credit bureaus of the incident. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion offer online reporting tools to make reporting fraud easy.

Placing a fraud alert on your credit is free and encourages creditors to engage in extra precautions to verify your identity before granting additional credit in your name. For example, a lender will need to take extra steps to approve a new loan application, such as contacting you by phone. You can also remove a fraud alert once the incident has been resolved.

4. Review your recent charges

Take a look at your bank account and credit card statements for any fraudulent activity you may have missed. Online banking makes it easy to review recent charges. Even so, you can request a printout from your bank or credit union if you prefer. This is also a good time to review your credit report and address any errors.

5. Monitor your card statements

In addition to reviewing recent charges, you should monitor your credit card and bank statements for a few months. Sometimes, fraudulent purchases made before reporting the fraud can take a while to show up on your account.

How to prevent credit or debit card fraud

Knowing what to do if you are a victim of fraud is one thing, but you should always aim to prevent it from happening.

Here are a few ways you can protect yourself from debit and credit card fraud:

Freeze your credit

You don’t have to wait until you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud to freeze your credit. In fact, anyone can freeze their credit at any time — for any reason.

Also known as a security freeze, a credit freeze limits access to your credit reports. This makes it harder for thieves to access your account information or open new accounts in your name for any loan products that require a credit report.

Credit bureaus offer this option for free. To request a credit freeze, you must provide identity verification documents, such as a photo ID, your Social Security number, and proof of address.

Keep in mind, however, that a credit freeze will affect your ability to apply for credit and use existing credit accounts, such as credit cards and lines of credit. You’ll need to unfreeze your credit whenever you apply for credit so lenders can access your credit reports.

Check your credit reports

Be sure to check your credit reports at least once per year to review your credit information and clear any errors. Even seemingly inconsequential errors, such as a wrongly reported late payment, can negatively impact your credit score.

Reporting errors happen, but in some cases, they can indicate that you’ve been the victim of credit card fraud or identity theft. You should always err on the side of caution and dispute the error, no matter how small.

Watch out for scams

So, how does your bank card get hacked? Debit and credit card-related scams are common tactics for stealing personal and financial information. Unfortunately, recognizing a scam isn’t always easy.

For example, many charity scams pop up after natural disasters. Scammers contact individuals pretending to be reputable nonprofits requesting monetary aid. Since many people want to help, these fraudulent “charity workers” can collect numerous debit and credit card numbers in a short amount of time.

Another common tactic is the “hotspot scam.” This is when scammers set up a public Wi-Fi network and monitor anyone who accesses it. They can record any passwords you use and see your bank account information if you check it while using the hotspot. Always ask a store or restaurant employee for the proper network login credentials and avoid connecting to generic-sounding Wi-Fi networks.

Avoid credit card and debit card fraud

You can avoid having to report credit card fraud by staying vigilant, keeping an eye on your account activity, and being thoughtful about how you use and share personal information. But even if you do everything right, you can still become a victim of credit card fraud, so it’s important to know what to do in that situation.

Has your account been compromised, leaving you without the means to pay for essential expenses? We can help tide you over with a personal loan until your card issuer reimburses you for the fraudulent charges. Apply in-store or online today.

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