While it’s possible that half of all Americans were hacked this year, very few of us received any kind of fraud alert. While some credit card companies go out of their way to contact customers about suspicious charges, not every company sets this up automatically. If you haven’t set it up for all of your cards, you could be spoiling all the hard work you’ve done to build a strong credit reputation.
Here is everything you need to know about using fraud alert protections on your credit cards.
Credit Monitoring is Just Part of the Solution
If you’ve got credit monitoring set up, you’ve clearly taken the future of your financial health seriously. Signing up for a credit monitoring system allows you to set alerts for when you’re facing changes to your credit information. Since most people have a pretty steady relationship to their credit, you shouldn’t see changes happen very often.
The only problem with this type of monitoring is that you only get credit updates every couple of weeks if that. You won’t be able to act quickly enough if disaster strikes. Suspicious activity needs to be pounced on, rather than responded to months after it occurs.
Delayed notifications cost you money and make it harder for your credit card company to respond. If you respond after a day or two of bad credit transactions, you can minimize the damage and respond fast. However, if you don’t catch fraud before it gets out of hand, you have a problem.
Credit card fraud alert is a service that’s usually free and far more responsive than what you get from a credit reporting agency. When you want to protect your credit, you can have a fraud alert set up to jump on the problem immediately. That means you can catch it before it hits your credit report, which could end up dragging it down for a few months to a year.
Setting Up Credit Card Fraud Alerts
When credit card fraud occurs, the credit card companies are hurt as much or worse than you. If they manage to catch a bad actor and shut down your card, your credit score can be protected, but the work for the credit card company just begins. If possible, they can track down the person who used the card and try to make them repay or hold them accountable by law.
If they don’t catch the person and the vendor they bought from doesn’t have a reason to take responsibility, the credit card company is left holding the ball.
If you want to know whether or not your credit card company has fraud notifications, go to their online interface. Log in and you’ll probably find options for notifications that include fraud alerts. Another way to set up alerts is to call the credit card company and ask them to set them up.
While every credit card company is going to have their own way of doing things, most every company now has fraud protection. If you’ve linked your account to your cell phone or to a smartphone app, you could get notified that way.
Text notifications give you an alert as soon as something suspicious happens. While this might be an intrusive way to find out, it’s preferred by some credit card holders.
You can set your threshold for when credit card transactions happen over a certain amount or when they occur too frequently. You could have your card shut down immediately or if you have tight control over your account, you could just get an email or alert.
Reacting To A Fraud Notification
If your phone dings with a fraud notification or if you get an email late at night, you might start panicking. Rather than letting your heart race and becoming overwhelmed with emotion, you need to act promptly and logically.
The first thing to do is to log into the online account or hop on the phone with customer service. The number at the back of the card should be adequate to put you through to someone who can verify your identity. Once they figure out that you are who you are, you can deny or confirm the charges that were run.
Don’t click on links if there are links within a text message. That could be spam. If there are numbers that don’t look familiar in a text message, pump the brakes because that could also be a scam.
The credit card’s customer service number is the one printed on the car. Anything else could be a phishing scam trying to get information out of you about your card or your account.
These alerts are usually a free service provided by your credit card provider. You shouldn’t receive any kind of charges for these alerts.
You should get these along with other kinds of alerts like balance notifications, payment due dates, and missed payments.
How To Avoid Fraud
Avoiding fraud is easier said than done. In an interconnected world where we rely heavily on online purchasing to get the things we need, we’re constantly sending our information out to strangers. While this is a fact of life, it’s still important to exercise caution.
Ensure that you never hand any personal information over via email or text. Only call numbers that you can verify. Your bank should have your personal information, not the other way around.
If something feels fishy, it probably is. Take precautions and protect your account.s above everything else.
A Fraud Alert Can Keep You On Track
Without fraud alert protection set up, you could end up in a situation where you’re denied a loan for something you know you qualify for. While getting loans is hard when you’ve got spotty credit, if you’ve done the work to rebuild it, you need to protect it.
If you need to take out a loan without perfect credit, check out our guide for more information.