Credit card fraud can be difficult to deal with, which is why you need to know why it happens, what to do when it happens, and how to prevent it from ever happening to you. All three of these things will ensure that you, hopefully, never need to deal with this horrendous event that occurs too often to many people.
Why Credit Card Fraud Happens
Credit card theft is becoming a common occurrence in today’s world and while some of it is from lost cards, there are many other reasons why it happens. Sometimes a wallet is stolen, while other times, it is related to a database being hacked, a card not being present for a purchase issue, or simple identity theft. Each one brings its own problems with credit card fraud, but thankfully, there are many things that you can do if this unthinkable event happens to you.
What to Do When You are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud
Report Credit Card Fraud to Your Financial Institution
The very first thing that you should do when you discover that you are a victim of credit card theft is to report it to your financial institution. They can help walk you through the steps of closing your accounts and getting new ones opened up. This is a good time to change the passwords on your accounts, as well as your pin numbers, so that no one can access any of your new account information.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Accounts through the Credit Agencies
Placing a fraud alert with all the credit agencies is considered filing a credit card fraud report. The good news is that you can simply contact one of the three agencies, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and the information that you give them will automatically be transferred over to the other two agencies. As soon as they have your information, they will place a ninety-day fraud alert on your credit report and account.
Consider Placing a Hold or Freeze on Your Credit through the Credit Agencies
You may also want to consider placing a hold or freeze on your credit accounts, as it will prevent someone from opening new accounts in your name. This is an excellent option, but it can be a slight inconvenience, especially if you plan on needing to ask for credit in the near future. However, if a lender does need to access your information, you can request a temporary lift on the freeze. The only thing that you need to be aware of with credit freezes and holds is that you may be responsible to pay a fee to have them placed on your accounts. Most times, that fee is waived when it comes to credit card fraud, but you will need to verify that when you make your phone call.
Ask for Credit Reports from All Three Credit Agencies
There is a chance that you have only discovered a small portion of the trouble that has been caused and that there are other credit card fraud detection areas within your accounts. The only way for you to find out if your credit has been compromised in any other way is to ask for your credit reports from all three credit agencies, which are mentioned above. While each agency does share information on occasion, like for credit card fraud, they do not all have the same information all the time. The only way to ensure that you know what is open in your name is to see what each agency has listed.
Contact the Social Security Agency if Your Social Security Number has been Compromised
You may need to file a credit card fraud report with the Social Security Agency, especially if you think that your social security number has been compromised. Identity theft is so much more than stealing a credit card and you will have so much more to deal with if the person who did it continues to use your information. The Social Security Agency can walk you through the necessary steps to make sure that no one continues to use your information.
Contact Your Local Police Agency to File a Report
It may be necessary for you to report this fraudulent activity to your local police agency, as it will give you additional credit card fraud protection. The reason for this is that there will be legal evidence that the crime occurred.
There are many ways that you can file this report, but some areas have a preference as to whether you go down to the police station, file it over the phone, or have an officer sent to your home. There are times when one of these options is better for you. A few people go to the police station, so they can show documentation of the fraud. However, others, especially the elderly, find that it is much more convenient to have a police officer go to their home, as it is too difficult for them to go anywhere.
It is best to have as much information as possible when you file this report, because it will allow you to have more of a legal standing if the police file charges against anyone.
Tips for Preventing Credit Card Fraud
Once you have been a victim of credit card fraud, you are going to want to take as many steps towards credit card fraud prevention as possible in the future.
Never Give Personal Information Out to Anyone
You should never give out any personal information like your credit card number or social security number to anyone, especially over the phone.
Always Use a Bank Owned ATM
This ensures that the ATM you are using has been checked every day to see if skimmers have been put in place.
Always Pay Inside Gas Stations
Skimmers are routinely placed on gas station pumps and they are difficult to see. Paying at the pump may mean sharing your information with those who place skimmers on these devices.
Utilize Mobile Apps When Possible
It is difficult for thieves to steal your information when you utilize mobile apps, so try to pay with them whenever possible. If mobile payments are not possible, then only shop at stores that offer chip readers, as they are much safer.
Only Use Credit Cards that Offer Fraud Protection
When you choose to use a credit card that offers fraud protection, you are guaranteeing that you will not be responsible for any fraud that occurs on your accounts.
Credit card fraud can happen every single day, but by taking as many credit card fraud prevention steps as possible, you can hopefully avoid it. Of course, if you sense any credit card fraud detection, even after taking these precautions, you will want to report them immediately. That way you can stop the person in their tracks, before they can cause massive problems for you and your entire family.