If you’ve recently been confronted with credit card fraud, you’re not alone. According to Federal Trade Commission, credit card fraud was the most common form of identity theft reported in 2019, with more than 271,000 reports of people whose current credit accounts have been compromised or new lines of credit taken out in their name .
If you spot any suspicious charges on your credit card, you can take steps to report the fraud and make sure you don’t have to pay for someone else’s purchases. Let’s take a close look at how to identify credit card fraud, how to report credit card fraud, and how to stop unauthorized credit card charges.
What is credit card fraud?
Whenever a credit account is used without the owner’s knowledge or consent, that account is used fraudulently. If you fall in love with a phishing email and unusual charges start showing up on your credit card account, that’s credit card fraud. If you swipe your card at a petrol station without realizing that you have just inserted your card at a credit card skimmer, it is credit card fraud. If a family member or roommate steals your credit card and goes shopping, it is credit card fraud. If you borrow your spouse’s credit card without their permission, you may be unintentionally committing credit card fraud yourself.
Sometimes this kind of fraud happens on a large scale. The Marriott Security Breaches, for example, expose millions of people to identity theft. Other times, scammers create targeted scams to trick people one by one. The coronavirus pandemic, for example, has resulted in multiple coronavirus scams-including charitable giving scams and mobile payment scams.
Regardless of how the fraud occurs, the result is pretty much the same: once a hacker or scammer has access to your credit card number and / or personal information, they can use this information to make purchases on your existing credit cards or take out new lines of credit in your name.
How to report credit card fraud
If you suspect credit card fraud, know your rights. Most credit card issuers offer no liability for unauthorized charge fraud, but you should always know how to stop unauthorized credit card charges before you can take advantage of this protection. Here are three steps you can take to report credit card fraud and protect yourself against multiple fraudulent transactions on the same credit card account.
Contact your credit card issuer
The first step to reporting credit card fraud? Contact your credit card issuer. In some cases, your credit card issuer will contact you first – you might receive an email or mobile alert asking if a recent debit looks familiar, for example. In other cases, you will need to report unusual or suspicious charges yourself by calling the number on the back of your credit card.
The Fair Credit Billing Act states that you must report fraudulent charges within 60 days of receiving the billing statement containing the suspicious charge. This means that if you receive your credit card statement on the first of the month, you have 60 days from that date to report any potentially fraudulent charges. However, it’s a good idea to contact your credit card issuer as soon as you notice unusual activity on your card, review your monthly statement, or check recently posted transactions to your online account.
Change your passwords
After informing your credit card issuer that you suspect that your credit card account has been compromised, it is advisable to change your passwords. First, change the password associated with the credit card in question, and then consider changing passwords on any websites or accounts where that credit card is stored as a payment method. If you have the possibility to implement two-factor authentication on your accounts, this is the right time to configure it. These security measures will help you protect yourself from repeated credit card fraud.
Update mobile wallets and online accounts
When you report credit card fraud, your credit card issuer may cancel your current credit card and send you a new card with a new credit card number. After your new credit card arrives, take the time to update your mobile wallets and online accounts, especially if you have automatic payments installation. This way you won’t accidentally fall behind on a subscription or bill. If you’ve used your old credit card to make purchases on sites like Amazon, be sure to update those payment methods as well.
How to protect yourself against credit card fraud
Knowing how to report credit card fraud is one thing, but how do you protect yourself against credit card fraud in the first place? Here are three ways to keep tabs on your credit cards and make it harder for thieves to make purchases on your behalf.
Check your credit card statements
The best way to protect yourself against credit card fraud is to review your credit card statements each month. Even if you are the type of person who regularly logs into your credit card app to verify your credit available or view posted transactions, it’s always a good idea to read your credit card statement every time it arrives in your inbox or mailbox.
When viewing your credit card statement, carefully review each of the transactions associated with your account. Do any purchases seem unusual or suspicious? If you believe that one or more of the charges on your account could be fraudulent, contact your credit card issuer immediately.
Configure mobile alerts
Another good way to protect yourself against fraud is to set up mobile alerts. When you enable mobile alerts on your credit card account, your credit card issuer will send you a notification whenever a suspicious debit is posted to your account. Then you will have the option to let your issuer know if you made the direct debit yourself or if it is a fraudulent direct debit.
Fraud protection isn’t the only benefit you’ll get from setting up mobile alerts. Mobile alerts can remind you when your next credit card payment is due and let you know when your most recent payment is due. You can also receive notifications whenever your account reaches a certain balance or whenever you make a purchase greater than a certain amount. You can even get a notification whenever there is a new charge on your card.
Freeze your credit reports
Protecting your current credit accounts from fraud is an important step, but what if identity thieves try to take out new lines of credit on your behalf? The best way to protect yourself against this kind of credit card fraud is to freeze your credit reports.
When your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports are frozen, anyone trying to open a credit card or apply for a loan in your name will be refused. This prevents identity thieves from taking out credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new lines of credit, so if you want apply for a new credit card, take out a personal loan or shopping for a mortgage, you’ll need to Thaw your credit first.
At the end of the line
What is credit card fraud? There are many types of credit card fraud, from phishing scams to credit card skimmers. That said, almost all credit card fraud schemes have the same end result: someone else makes fraudulent purchases on your credit card account.
Knowing how to report credit card fraud and how to stop unauthorized credit card charges can help you avoid having to pay for someone else’s fraudulent charges. Taking steps to prevent credit card fraud can help you avoid having to face these kinds of fraudulent charges in the future.