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If you find an unauthorized purchase on your credit or debit card statement, do you know what to do, who to call, and how to protect your account? There is a good chance that your cards have also been or will be compromised.
Credit card fraud is a type of identity theft. While it can be intimidating and frustrating, you can fill yourself with information. Learn more about this type of crime and what to do if it does happen, and know how to file a lawsuit so you don’t get blamed for someone else’s accusations. Also, take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are many ways you can thwart potential thieves.
What is credit card fraud?
Credit card fraud is any transaction that is not authorized by you, the account holder. Accusations should not be beneficial to you in any way. For example, if your spouse got into your wallet without your knowledge and used your credit card to pay a phone bill, this is not a reported case of fraud. Yes, this is an unauthorized payment, but you benefited from it. It is also not a scam if you forgot to make a payment or were confused when you made it.
How to write a statement about card fraud
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please follow the steps to remedy the situation by filing a claim.
1. Report fraud to your credit issuer
Contact your credit card issuer immediately. If you call, there is usually a prompt that allows you to connect with the fraud department, but if not, talk to a representative. In either case, be prepared to review the transaction(s) in detail. Know the seller, the amount spent and the date of the transaction. Depending on the lender, you can also report fraud online or through a mobile app.
2. Keep good records
Once you report the fraud, the issuer will initiate an investigation. A representative will contact you later if needed. If you called, write down the date, the person you spoke to, and any records of the conversation. If you have filed a fraud claim online, take a screenshot or print a confirmation page for your records. Most issuers provide advance refunds at the time of filing a claim.
3. File a police report if you know a scammer
As a rule, you do not need to file a police report, but if you know the perpetrator, this may be necessary. The seller can provide proof that the item was ordered and shipped to your home address. A police report can be evidence that not only did you not charge, but you did not benefit from the purchase. A police report may also be requested if charges are particularly high.
Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov website to file an identity theft report for law enforcement to use in their investigation. Then, if your credit issuer asks for more information to substantiate your claim, you can contact law enforcement for a report.
In the event that the issuer agrees that you have been a victim of fraud, the account will most likely be closed. The issuer will send you a new card with a fresh account number that you can activate and use.
In most cases, you will not be caught cheating. The Fair Credit Billing Act limits liability to $50, but many credit issuers waive the entire amount. However, act quickly. You have 60 days from the date you received your credit card bill to dispute the payment. The issuer then has 30 days to confirm receipt of your claim. The investigation can take up to 60 days, and while the investigation is ongoing, the issuer cannot charge the fee, charge interest on it, or report your lateness to the credit bureau (if it is due to a fraudulent charge).
Protect yourself from fraud
Although the process of filing a claim is quite simple, it can also be time consuming. It is always better to take preventive measures. Here are a few strategies that will make it harder for a credit card thief to scam:
- Keep your credit cards in plain sight or in a safe place. Your credit card contains all the information that anyone other than you can use, so you should never let a thief use your card to make purchases.
- Report lost or stolen cards immediately. Before a fraudster can use your card, contact your issuer. You can suspend an account instead of closing it. If or when you find one, you can contact the issuer to allow you to use the card again.
- Choose paperless reports. If you receive credit card statements mailed to you, anyone who views them may be able to obtain your account numbers and other personal information, and may charge you for telephone and Internet charges. Instead, ask for the statements to be emailed to you. Once you’ve reviewed them, click Remove.
- Shop only on secure e-commerce sites. The website must start with HTTPS – the “S” stands for secure. While it may be easier to store your card number on the website for future purchases, think again. If someone steals your computer or device, they can charge you.
- Check for skimmers. One way credit card thieves steal account information is with a skimmer, which is a device they attach to ATMs and fuel pumps. Before inserting a card, take a look at it. If it looks fake or has excess plastic sticking out, don’t use it and tell the company.
- Get a call from your credit issuer? Call them back from the official number. If your credit card issuer calls and alerts you to a problem, explain that you will call them back at the number on the back of your card or from the website. Never give your account numbers or personal identification information to anyone who calls you.
There is no reason to panic if your card has been used fraudulently. Just take quick and correct action. While you can’t stop committed credit card thieves from running their illegal business, you can definitely make it harder for them – and they might just decide to move on.