If you’re reviewing your account’s transactions and notice a purchase you don’t remember making, you may be a victim of credit card fraud.
Put simply, credit card fraud is any unauthorized charge on your account, but the entire situation can become complex. Credit card fraud can come from unknown charges on your account (known as account takeover) or through identity theft, where an entirely new account is opened under your name.
According to a study by the Federal Trade Commission, there were nearly 3 million individual reports of fraud in the 2018 alone. The FTC estimated the total value of these threats at roughly $1.48 billion. While most of these cases are remediated, you don’t want to be an all-too-real part of that statistic.
An overlooked or ignored fraudulent charge or account can be very problematic. Your credit score could take a hit in the short-term due to underpaying or falling behind on your payments, but handling the situation properly and reporting it could prevent any long-term impact. Due to it being out of your control in many cases, credit card fraud is an inconvenient hassle that can enter your life at any time. Let’s go over what to do if your account is in jeopardy and how to prevent credit card fraud in the future.
What to do if you’re a victim of credit card fraud
If you find a charge on your account that you can’t quite recall, it’s best you act fast. We’ll walk through some steps you might need to take to best handle dealing with a mystery charge.
1. Contact your card issuer
As soon as you notice suspicious activity on your statement, reach out to your card issuer. You may want to lookup the best number to contact (many banks have fraud departments), but most credit cards have the toll-free number on the back.
Your card issuer should be able to track the location and time of the purchase in question, so it’ll be easy to determine whether it truly is a fraudulent charge or just a forgotten transaction. If it’s definitely a nonsense charge, most card issuers will contact the vendor themselves to have the purchase reversed and removed from your account. They may require some additional time for investigation or ask you to provide an affidavit of fraud, but contacting your bank/card issuer is the first thing to do when you think your statement is inaccurate.
It’s important to know that there are specific cases where this may be the only step needed to fix the problem. However, you may run the risk of future fraud and set yourself up for even more hassle down the line, so additional steps could be necessary.
2. Protect your accounts
After reporting your initial concern, look into your other credit card accounts to ensure that there’s no extra foul play going on.
To avoid anything further being compromised, change the passwords on your accounts to be as secure as possible. It’s next to impossible…
Read More: How to Report Credit Card Fraud