Identity theft and credit card fraud can be difficult to detect and sometimes costly and time-consuming to correct. While many there are laws and business policies to protect you from fraud liability, youíll still have to spend time dealing with the effects of fraud. Early detection is key to ensuring you minimize credit card fraud damage.
Your billing statement contains credit card transactions that you didnít make.
Perhaps the easiest way to spot credit card fraud is by noticing fraudulent transactions on your credit card statement. Thatís one of the reasons itís so important to read your credit card statement thoroughly each month, even if everything appears ok at first glance.
With online credit card accounts, you can detect fraudulent transactions sooner than if you wait for the statement to arrive in the mail. Make a habit of logging in to your account once a week to see which transactions have posted. If you see anything suspicious, contact your credit card issuer.
After you notice fraud, initial phone contact is good to have the card issuer flag your account and prevent any future charges from processing. You should follow up with a letter to ensure your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act are protected.
You receive bills for credit cards you donít have.
Donít ignore a strange credit card statement or a notice from a debt collector. If you receive a credit card statement for a card you never opened, call the credit card issuer to let them know you never opened this account. They may ask you for an identity theft report or a signed affidavit as document to support your claim. In the meantime, ask them to close the account so no further charges are made to the account, then work to get the documents necessary to clear up the fraud.
Your credit report contains accounts you didnít open.
Strange accounts on your credit report are another sign of credit card fraud and identity theft. You can dispute these accounts with the credit bureau noting that the accounts arenít yours. Follow up with the bank that issued the credit card to clear up fraud.
One of the reasons the Federal government passed the law granting free credit reports is so you can detect credit card fraud and identity theft sooner. Order your free annual credit reports every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also purchase your credit reports directly from the credit bureaus. Or, you can sign up for credit monitoring to help you detect (not necessarily prevent) credit card fraud.
Protecting Yourself From Future Fraud
If fraudsters were able to open accounts in your name, thereís a chance theyíve stolen your personal information and can open more. You can prevent future identity theft by adding a fraud alert to your credit report. A fraud alert is essentially a statement that lets your credit report viewers know that youíve been a victim of fraud. The fraud alert encourages businesses to take extra steps to confirm your identity before granting credit.
Make sure you report a lost or stolen credit card quickly to minimize or even eliminate the possibility of credit card fraud. Thieves can commit fraud with just your credit card information, so be careful about who handles your credit card and who you give your credit card information to.
Source: The Federal Trade Commission