Credit card fraud seems to run rampant these days. No matter how careful you are, cards get stolen or hacked. It can feel like it’s too easy for hackers to learn your credit card number and use it to make purchases before you realize it happened.
Monitoring services can help alert you to suspicious activity on your card’s account, but what do you do when fraud happens? You can’t avoid taking action when you experience credit card frauds, but the hassle, headache, and discomfort of the situation can make it challenging to know what to do.
Until the government and credit card companies find a way to eliminate credit card fraud, it’s critical to handle it correctly if it happens to you. Keep reading to learn what to do if you’re a victim of credit card fraud.
What is Credit Card Fraud?
Credit card fraud is the unauthorized use of your cards to make purchases or collect money. This practice used to primarily involve a thief physically stealing your card from your mailbox, your purse, or wallet, then using it. While that still happens, most fraudulent credit card use today happens when someone steals your identity and personal information to open credit cards in your name.
The internet makes it easier for criminals to steal your identity and use your credit card information for illegal purchases. It’s difficult to trace and find the hackers behind this kind of theft. However, if it happens to you, you can take immediate action to recover the costs of fraudulent purchases and protect your account.
Contact Your Credit Card Company
If they haven’t already contacted you, reach out to your credit card company as soon as you notice suspicious charges on your card.
Because credit card fraud is a significant problem, many credit card companies offer credit monitoring services. The best credit card companies understand your purchasing behavior. At the first sign of a larger-than-normal charge, multiple small charges in a short amount of time, or a charge in a location that is outside of your regular purchase area, your credit card company should alert you to suspicious activity.
However, to help protect yourself from fraudulent activity, be proactive when you see a charge that isn’t yours.
- Call your credit card company right away
- Let them know you see a charge that you didn’t make
- Tell them the date of the charge and the amount
Your card issuer should place an immediate hold on the activity related to your credit card. They’ll open an investigation into the charge and how it happened.
Cancel the Card
In most cases of fraud, your credit card issuer will automatically cancel your card and send you a new one with a new account number. If your credit card company doesn’t offer this as soon as you call them, request that they cancel the card.
The canceled account keeps the thieves from making more purchases with your card. You’ll still have to pay the balance on your legitimate purchases made with the compromised card, but in most cases, fraudulent charges won’t affect your credit score or your total balance.
Your credit card company should find that your card experienced fraudulent use and credit the amount of those purchases back to your account.
Change Account Passwords
There are plenty of ways hackers can access your personal information and credit card accounts. If you’re the victim of fraud, add an extra layer of protection by changing your account passwords.
We understand that passwords can be a hassle to create and remember. Every website and account needs a unique password. It can feel like a neverending battle to beat the hackers while remembering too many passwords.
There’s no easy way to create passwords that thwart hackers while maintaining your sanity, but it can help to keep a few tips in mind:
- The longer, the better.
- Avoid obvious patterns.
- Use a mix of numbers, letters, capitalization, and symbols.
- Never reuse old passwords.
A good password practice is to set a reminder and change account passwords every 3-6 months. It can be a hassle, but this habit can help you avoid the necessity of replacing credit cards that fall victim to fraud.
Alert The Appropriate Agencies
Let the right agencies know that you’re the victim of credit card fraud. Excessive charges can impact how financial institutions handle your credit going forward.
Contact the credit monitoring bureaus and request a credit freeze to prevent criminals from opening more accounts using your identity and personal information.
When the credit bureaus are aware of fraudulent activity on your accounts, they can also help protect your credit score and provide reports while you restore your account and work to remove fraudulent charges.
You’ll also want to alert any agency that receives automated payments through your compromised card. Let them know you have a new credit card number and that your old account is no longer active due to fraudulent activity.
You might also want to file a police report. Use all resources available to you to help restore your finances and track down fraudulent activity. The police can use your report to monitor similar activities in your area. This kind of information helps agencies work together to protect consumers from fraud.
Be Proactive When Dealing With Credit Card Frauds
Sometimes the best defense is a proactive offense. Don’t depend on credit card agencies or monitoring services to be your first defense against criminal activity with your accounts. Help protect yourself from credit card frauds by regularly monitoring transactions on your accounts.
When choosing a new credit card, use expert resources to guide you to the companies that help protect their users, and fight fraudulent charges on your behalf. Bonsai Finances provides the research and resources you need to help you choose among the 1,500 available credit cards in the marketplace.
Use our resources to help find the best credit cards and loans for your needs!