What are the steps to take after discovering credit card fraud?

credit-card-fraudCredit cards are one of our most versatile financial tools. A credit card is widely accepted in many venues. Unfortunately, sometimes a credit card can create problems for the cardholder. Credit card fraud is a fairly common crime, one that costs us all billions of dollars each year.

Take Multiple Steps
If you have discovered that you are a victim of potential credit card fraud, there are multiple steps you must take to avoid problems. Carrying out such steps will help make sure that you are not forced to pay for items you did not purchase or confront the nightmare of ongoing bad credit as a result of someone else’s fraudulent behavior.

Confirm the Problem
The first thing you should do is make sure the problem is real. Sometimes scammers send out false emails to people hoping to get them to reveal their credit card number. The only person you should trust to verify fraud on your account are workers at the credit card company or your bank.

Learn Specifics
Get specific information about what was taken. In almost every state, consumers are only responsible for up to $50 in liability charges for credit card fraud. However, the criminal may have used to card to get other information about you such as your social security number, home phone number, exactly address and information about important fiscal aspects of your life such as your retirement accounts, monthly rent or mortgage payments. This can pose much bigger problems than a lost fifty bucks.

Cancel the Card
Cancel your card immediately. This can be a huge pain in neck but it must be done. Your old credit card must be made invalid as soon as possible. Call your bank and ask if they can issue you a new credit card as soon as possible. If fraud happens on a weekend, this can take a few days. On other days of the week, you should be able to get a new card very soon, possibly within the hour.

Create New Passwords
Create a totally new and challenging password for your new card. Create a password for your new account that is not obvious. Consult with your spouse about a password that is easy for both of you to remember. Use unusual characters and at least one number. Change other passwords as well including the passwords to your bank account, investment savings account and email addresses.

Pay Attention to Future Transactions
Just because it happened once doesn’t mean it can’t happen again. Monitor all your future statements closely. If possible, keep a spending diary for a few months. Note what you bought with your credit card and where it was purchased. Make sure your statements from the credit card company match the records you keep. If you see any potential problems, contact your credit card company immediately. You should also contact the three credit reporting companies TransUnion, Equifax and Experian and get a credit report to make sure they have accurate records about your credit.

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