How To Detect Credit Card Fraud
Unauthorized or suspicious charges are often the first indication you've been a victim of credit card fraud. Review your monthly statements carefully to make sure there are no charges for things you didn't buy — or withdrawals you didn't authorize. Receiving a credit card statement for a card you didn't apply for is another way you could find out you've been victimized.
Many credit card companies are proactive about detecting fraud and often contact cardholders if they detect suspicious activity. However, it's never wise to provide information on any unsolicited phone calls. Instead, hang up and call your credit card company back and ask if there are any problems with your account.
How To Report Credit Card Fraud
If you discover fraudulent transactions — or if your card is lost or stolen — contact your credit card company immediately to report the fraud. Ask them to cancel or suspend your account. They will tell you how to destroy any existing cards and when you'll receive replacement cards.
You can also file a police report by contacting your local police or sheriff's office. In most cases, local authorities aren't equipped to handle credit card fraud cases. However, some creditors require police reports as part of their investigation into your fraud claim.
What Do You Do If You're A Credit Card Fraud Victim
After you have contacted your credit card company and filed a police report, you can further protect yourself and start the recovery process by doing the following:
- File a fraud alert with one of the three credit reporting bureaus, TransUnion,4 Equifax5 or Experian.6 You only need to file with one as they share alert information. The alert will make it harder for anyone to open new credit in your name. You can also place a freeze on your account, which prevents you — or scammers — from opening any new credit accounts in your name until you remove the freeze.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov.7 Once you have filed a complaint, the agency will work with you to create a personal fraud recovery plan.
- Check your credit report. It's wise to check your credit report for credit inquiries or accounts you don't recognize even if you haven't been a victim. This will help you catch any fraudulent activity that may have slipped through the cracks. If you have been a victim, it's even more important to check your report regularly. In response to the dramatic rise in all types of financial fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic, all three credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — are offering free weekly credit reports8 to help consumers keep an eye on their accounts.
Unfortunately, there's no way to completely protect yourself from credit card fraud. But guarding your personal information and checking your statements are typically your best lines of defense.
In the market for a new credit card? Be sure to look for a card that offers real-time alerts, online statements, and coverage if someone fraudulently uses your card. Don't forget to consider rewards, perks, and fees when choosing a credit card.