- How To Report Credit Card Fraud
- What is credit card fraud?
- How to report credit card fraud
- Contact your credit card issuer
- Change your passwords
- Update mobile wallets and online accounts
- Review your credit card statements
- Set up mobile alerts
- Freeze your credit reports
- Bottom line
- Credit Cards — Did I Charge That?
- Billing Errors and Disputing a Charge
- Be Vigilant
- Report Fraud
- How to Spot and Dispute Fraudulent Credit Card Charges
- How to detect credit card fraud
- How to distinguish between Fraud and simple error
- What to expect from the credit card fraud investigation
How To Report Credit Card Fraud
If you’ve recently had to deal with credit card fraud, you’re not alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit card fraud was the most common form of identity theft reported in 2019, with over 271,000 reports from people who had their current credit accounts compromised or new lines of credit taken out under their name.
If you spot suspicious charges on your credit card, there are steps you can take to report the fraud and ensure you don’t have to pay for someone else’s purchases. Let’s take a close look at how to identify credit card fraud, how to report credit card fraud and how to stop unauthorized credit card charges.
What is credit card fraud?
Any time a credit account is used without the owner’s knowledge or consent, that account is being used fraudulently. If you fall for a phishing email and unusual charges begin appearing on your credit card account, that’s credit card fraud.
If you swipe your card at a gas station without realizing that you just inserted your card into a credit card skimmer, that’s credit card fraud. If a family member or roommate steals your credit card and goes on a shopping spree, that’s credit card fraud.
If you borrow your spouse’s credit card without their permission, you might be unwittingly committing credit card fraud yourself.
Sometimes this kind of fraud happens on a massive scale. The Marriott security breaches, for example, put millions of people at risk of identity theft. Other times, fraudsters create targeted scams to trap people one at a time. The coronavirus pandemic, for example, led to multiple coronavirus-related scams—including charity donation scams and mobile payment scams.
No matter how the fraud happens, the result is pretty much the same: Once a hacker or scammer has access to your credit card number and/or personal information, they can use that information to make purchases on your existing credit cards or take out new lines of credit under your name.
How to report credit card fraud
If you suspect credit card fraud, know your rights.
Most credit card issuers offer zero fraud liability on unauthorized charges—but you still have to know how to stop unauthorized credit card charges before you can take advantage of that protection.
Here are three steps you can take to report credit card fraud and protect yourself against multiple fraudulent transactions on the same credit card account.
Contact your credit card issuer
The first step in reporting credit card fraud? Contact your credit card issuer. In some cases, your credit card issuer will contact you first—you might receive an email or a mobile alert asking if a recent charge looks familiar, for example. In other cases, you’ll need to report the unusual or suspicious charge yourself by calling the number on the back of your credit card.
The Fair Credit Billing Act states that you must report fraudulent charges within 60 days of receiving the billing statement containing the suspicious charge.
This means that if you receive your credit card statement on the first of the month, you have 60 days from that date to report any potentially fraudulent charges.
However, it’s a good idea to contact your credit card issuer as soon as you notice any unusual activity on your card—whether you’re reviewing your monthly statement or checking the transactions that recently posted to your online account.
Change your passwords
After you let your credit card issuer know that you suspect your credit card account has been compromised, it’s a good idea to change your passwords.
Start by changing the password associated with the credit card in question—then consider changing the passwords on any websites or accounts on which that credit card is stored as a method of payment.
If you have the option to implement two-factor authentication on your accounts, now’s a good time to set it up. These security measures will help protect you from repeated credit card fraud.
Update mobile wallets and online accounts
When you report credit card fraud, your credit card issuer is ly to cancel your current credit card and send you a new card with a new credit card number.
After your new credit card arrives, take the time to update your mobile wallets and online accounts—especially if you have automatic payments set up. That way, you won’t accidentally fall behind on a subscription or bill.
If you used your old credit card to make purchases on sites Amazon, make sure you update those payment methods as well.
Knowing how to report credit card fraud is one thing—but how do you protect yourself from credit card fraud in the first place? Here are three ways to keep an eye on your credit cards and make it harder for thieves to make purchases in your name.
Review your credit card statements
The best way to protect yourself from credit card fraud is to review your credit card statements every month. Even if you’re the kind of person who regularly logs into your credit card app to check your available credit or review posted transactions, it’s still a good idea to read your credit card statement every time it hits your inbox or mailbox.
When you review your credit card statement, take a close look at each of the transactions associated with your account. Do any purchases look unusual or suspicious? If you suspect that one or more of the charges on your account might be fraudulent, contact your credit card issuer right away.
Set up mobile alerts
Another good way to protect yourself from fraud is to set up mobile alerts. When you activate mobile alerts on your credit card account, your credit card issuer will send you a notification every time a suspicious charge posts to your account. Then, you’ll have the option to let your issuer know whether you made the charge yourself, or whether the charge might be fraudulent.
Fraud protection isn’t the only benefit you’ll get by setting up mobile alerts. Mobile alerts can remind you when your next credit card payment is due and let you know when your most recent payment has gone through.
You can also receive notifications every time your account reaches a certain balance—or every time you make a purchase above a certain dollar amount.
You can even get a notification every time there is a new charge on your card.
Freeze your credit reports
Protecting your current credit accounts from fraud is an important step—but what if identity thieves try to take out new lines of credit under your name? The best way to protect yourself from this kind of credit card fraud is by freezing your credit reports.
When your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports are frozen, anyone who tries to open a credit card or apply for a loan under your name will be declined.
This prevents identity thieves from taking out credit cards or loans under your name, but it also prevents you from opening new lines of credit—so if you want to apply for a new credit card, take out a personal loan or shop for a mortgage, you’ll need to thaw your credit freeze first.
What is credit card fraud? There are many different types of credit card fraud, from phishing scams to credit card skimmers. That said, nearly all credit card fraud schemes have the same end result: Someone else making fraudulent purchases on your credit card account.
Knowing how to report credit card fraud and how to stop unauthorized credit card charges can help protect you from having to pay for someone else’s fraudulent charges. Taking steps to prevent credit card fraud can help protect you from having to deal with these kinds of fraudulent charges in the future.
Credit Cards — Did I Charge That?
Complaints involving unauthorized credit card charges continue to be one of the most common consumer complaints received by the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.
Problems with these charges can be avoided or resolved if recognized and addressed quickly. Many unauthorized charges go unnoticed for several months as cardholders do not thoroughly and frequently review their statements.
Early detection is crucial.
The unrecognized charge on your credit card statement could simply be a charge from an unfamiliar merchant, a forgotten credit card fee, or a previously scheduled purchase.
Some cards have annual fees that are often forgotten since they occur once a year and, on a rare occasion, you may even find an error by the card issuer.
But remember: the charge could also be an unauthorized credit card transaction.
To spot unauthorized charges, pay close attention to every transaction on your credit card statement, no matter how big or small. To best monitor charges, create an online account for that credit card and view the online statement frequently rather than waiting for your monthly billing statement.
Here are some tips to keep your credit card safe:
- Armed with your credit card information, telemarketers or over-zealous vendors may place charges on your credit card that you have not authorized. In some instances, financial institutions or merchants with whom you do business may share credit card information with other companies selling various products and services, who in turn use this information to make unauthorized charges against the credit card account.
- Find out your credit card company's information sharing policy and “opt out” of credit card contract terms that allow the card issuer to share your account information with third parties.
- Don't provide credit card information over the phone unless you placed the call, especially to telemarketers or persons claiming to be from your bank or credit card company.
- Don't provide credit card information as 'verification' or a means of identification.
- Don't provide credit card information in exchange for a product or service that is to be provided on a 'trial basis.' Such offers may contain conditions, easily overlooked, that permit an automatic purchase to be charged to the credit card at the trial period's end.
- Millions of credit card numbers are stolen each year accounting for billions of dollars in illegal purchases. Don't pay for charges you did not authorize!
- If you notice charges on your credit card statement that aren’t yours, call the credit card issuer immediately to report it and have the card cancelled. It is possible that your card number could have been picked up by an employee at a business where you shop, the fraudulent charges could have been made online, or your card could have been cloned.
- You should also check with the three major credit reporting agencies and obtain a copy of your credit report to be sure that nothing else has been accessed. If you find suspicious accounts on any of your reports, you may want to contact the credit reporting agencies and place a “fraud alert” or ”credit freeze” on your credit. For more information on credit freezes and fraud alerts, go to the Michigan Attorney General’s Credit Freeze; Fraud Alert; and Credit Monitoring consumer alert.
- The good news is that consumers are not typically responsible for the amounts lost in cases of credit card fraud. The Fair Credit Billing Act limits the liability to $50, and oftentimes, there's no cost at all.
Avoid surprise charges, fees, or disputes before they arise by reading all terms and conditions contained in a credit card application in full before you sign up. In particular;
- Watch for mandatory “membership” or other fees that are automatically charged to the card if it is accepted.
- If the card promotes a special introductory low finance rate, find out how long the low rate applies, and the amount of the finance rate after the introductory period has expired.
- Be sure that the card does not include an automatic purchase of some other product, such as a magazine subscription, that will be automatically charged to the card if accepted.
- Avoid or opt contract terms providing for binding arbitration or information sharing with other companies.
Billing Errors and Disputing a Charge
Credit card companies do make billing errors that should be addressed immediately. These errors can range from posting the wrong date of a transaction, math mistakes, and failure to post payments or other credits. You should contact the company to dispute the issue.
To dispute a charge on your credit card bill, contact the card issuer by calling the number on the back of your card or logging into your online credit card account. Ask for the ‘Billing Dept’ and explain the billing error.
You may be asked to send a written billing error notice to the card company within 60 calendar days after the charge appeared on your statement.
Complaints about purchases that weren’t received, the quality of items or services paid for with a credit card, or being overcharged or double-billed by the seller may also be made by written dispute to the card company.
To be considered for a reversal of those charges, the following must be met: (1) you made a good faith effort to resolve the issue with the seller; (2) you made the purchase in your home state or within 100 miles of your home address; (3) the price of the item was more than $50, and (4) you have not yet fully paid for the item.
- Check credit card statements frequently.
- Create an online account with each credit card and log on weekly to help keep track of charges.
- Immediately contact the card issuer if you suspect fraud.
It is never fun to have to deal with unauthorized charges, but it is best to deal with them quickly.
If you have a general consumer complaint, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team:
Consumer Protection Unit P.O. Box 30213 Lansing, MI 48909 517-335-7599 Fax: 517-241-3771 Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form
How to Spot and Dispute Fraudulent Credit Card Charges
A fraudulent charge can happen when you least expect it and possibly at the most inconvenient time. If you’re not in the habit of checking your credit card accounts, it may be a while before you even notice that anything is amiss.
You ly won't be financially responsible for credit card fraud, but you still must be able to identify it and report it to your issuer.
Here's how to detect such charges quickly and dispute them efficiently for a resolution.
How to detect credit card fraud
The best way to detect credit card fraud is to review your statement regularly for unauthorized transactions. You can also make it easy on yourself by setting up credit card alerts for every card in your wallet, via your card issuer's mobile app or website.
When you do, you can generally elect to be notified by text or email for a variety of transactions, including:
“Card not present” transactions, such as online purchases.
Transactions that exceed a designated amount.
Such alerts can help you more easily spot suspicious activity and minimize the potential of accidentally glossing over a charge on your credit card statement.
How to distinguish between Fraud and simple error
Once you detect an unauthorized transaction, determine whether it's fraud or a billing error. Sometimes it's just a simple mistake.
“Once you detect an unauthorized transaction, determine whether it's fraud or a billing error. Sometimes it's just a simple mistake.”
If, say, you're accidentally double-charged by the same store, you might be able to resolve the issue quickly by taking it up with that merchant first.
For charges that you don't recognize, try Googling the name of the merchant on your credit card statement to see whether it does business under a different name.
If you share the account with joint cardholders or authorized users, ask them if they made the questionable transaction.
Once you go through these steps and determine that a transaction is fraudulent, report it to your credit card issuer.
» MORE: How serious a crime is credit card theft and fraud?
Nerdy tip: Don't panic if you stumble upon fraud on your credit card statement. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you're not responsible for unauthorized charges made on the internet.
For other fraudulent transactions, federal law limits your liability to $50 as long as you report them to your credit card issuer.
On top of this, most major credit card issuers offer zero-liability fraud policies, so you ly won't owe any amount at all.
What to expect from the credit card fraud investigation
The credit card issuer will be interested in preventing further unauthorized charges on your account, so it may decide to freeze or cancel your credit card and send a replacement. If you get a new credit card number, you may need to change it wherever you have it stored as a payment for goods and services.
While the investigation is pending, you’re not required to pay the disputed amount or charges accrued. Credit card issuers can't take legal actions or send your bill to collections while the amount in question is investigated. You will, however, be required to pay the portion of your bill that belongs to you.
By law, the dispute must be resolved within two billing cycles (no more than 90 days) after receiving your letter. The issuer must notify you in writing about its findings and next steps.
If the issuer determines that a transaction is fraudulent, it must credit your account for the amount disputed and remove any charges resulting from the transaction. If the issuer determines the transaction is correct, you’re responsible for paying the disputed amount and any charges resulting from it.