Chris Bridges, Founder and CEO, VITAL Card
Far too many consumers fall victim to credit card fraud each year. From data hacks to information that is stolen, credit card fraud, unfortunately, happens every day.
Many are aware of the potential risks of account fraud, yet may not be sure how to prevent it. How do you report it should it happen to you, and minimize the damage?
Take a look at this step-by-step guide to learn what you should do if your account has been breached.
As soon as you realize an account has been hacked, you should get in touch with your credit card company. Most have 24-hour lines. You can call or send an email about the potential spam.
However, there are a few things to first keep into account. When you see the charge, note whether it’s a recurring charge.
Many charges are automatic, and companies may charge on an infrequent frequency. Cross-reference with your email or past charges to make this possible.
Next, if you share your account with a significant other, make sure they didn’t make the purchase.
Too often, couples don’t communicate properly about how they will spend their money, causing rifts, as well as confusion about the credit card account.
Once you’ve established that a charge is fraudulent, there are a few things you can do.
- Check to see if the card is in your possession. Did you lose the card? Was it stolen? If not, it’s possible that your information was used online to make a fraudulent purchase.
- Sign in online and deactivate your card. Did you know that most credit card providers allow you the ability to shut your card off? This helps combat scammers, but it can also be used to curb personal or family spending.
- Better still is you can log back in with ease and turn it back on as needed.
- Contact your credit card issuer.
As mentioned above, it’s time to notify the issuing company. Contact the phone number on your credit card or statement (whether it’s paper or digital).
You should do this for scam charges of any amount, even if it’s small. Scammers often make a small charge to test a card and see if it’s active.
Once the small charge goes through, they will make a larger purchase. Reporting the fraud can save you from unnecessary headaches.
Should You Report Credit Card Scams to the Authorities?
Next, it’s time to discuss law enforcement with your credit card scam situation. If you prefer, you can take your credit card company’s lead; they will advise you on your next steps.
If there is a large charge or several charges, it’s a good idea to contact law enforcement about the scam to your credit card account.
You can submit your claim online to the Federal Trade Commission Trade
You should also notify local law enforcement if your credit card is stolen or believe your information was gathered during use.
There are devices called “skimmers” that record your credit card information and credit card number. Oftentimes they are invisible to the untrained eye.
Skimmers record your data, including info like your zip code or PIN that allows a third party to use the account.
Skimmer reports are important to local law enforcement; they can find where a skimmer may be placed, who put it there, and where they’re making fraudulent charges.
Ultimately, this can help them apprehend any guilty parties.
Next Steps After Spotting Credit Card Fraud
Next, you should change your online passwords to your credit card account. Ensure that scammers can’t get in on the back end or aren’t approving charges directly from your account.
Then, you can contact major credit bureaus and let them know about the scam. They can freeze your credit until the case has been resolved.
This will allow you to take care of any issues with your credit card account without allowing charges or repayments to affect your credit score.
The data also gives credit bureaus a good idea of when and where scams are taking place, which can help identify or prevent future scams.
Monitor Your Accounts
You’ll need to continue to monitor your account and statements. Charges may continue to come in, and you’ll need to keep track of which ones were you vs. those made by someone else.
Keep a record of the charges that you made and remain hyper-aware of your incoming credit card fees.
Remember that you should regularly follow your account whether or not a scam has occurred.
This will help keep charges under control sooner rather than later. The faster you can spot a scam, the more that can be prevented from being charged to your account.
It’s likely that your credit card company will issue you a new card in the event of a scam.
Remember to update sources that charge to the card and change your passwords for security measures to boot.
How to Keep Credit Card Data Safe
As technology advances, scammers are becoming savvier and savvier at obtaining information.
Remember to keep your personal information to yourself. Don’t fall for phone calls or emails that ask for data about yourself or your credit card usage.
Your credit card company will rarely call, and if they do, they won’t ask for personal info over the phone.
Scammers can be extremely convincing, so keep a sharp eye and avoid them at all costs.
Watch Your Spending Habits
Next, stay aware of your spending habits and protocol when using your credit card. Avoid websites that aren’t secured. You shouldn’t shop on these sites as they may steal or reuse your credit card information.
Look for credit card readers that may have been tampered with and notify an employee or law enforcement about what you’ve seen. This can be a clear indication that a skimmer has been placed to steal credit card data.
Be Smart and Stay Secure Online
Finally, use smart online practices for your credit cards. Use safe, long passwords that are not easy to recreate.
Only log in to your credit card account or shop online while on a secure wifi connection.
It’s not a good idea to shop on public wifi, as your data can be hacked while doing so.
A Run Down of Credit Card Safety
In order to keep your credit card account safe from hackers, use smart practices every time you shop online or log into your account. This can help ensure your card can’t be used from the backend.
You should also keep track of your card at all times to ensure it hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands.
These are simple yet effective ways to help keep track of your credit card and allow it to stay out of scammers’ reach.
Brief Recap on Credit Card Fraud
A brief rundown of the things we covered: If you see a fraudulent charge on your credit card, you should first contact your credit card company.
Doing so can help them get a jump on refuting any future charges. If you can log into your account online, you can also freeze the account and change the password to avoid future hacking from a scammer.
Meanwhile, remain aware of common scamming practices, such as skimmers that steal card data while you are checking out. (These are most common at gas pumps or ATMs or where readers remain unattended by employees.)
Don’t fall for phone or email scams, either. These frauds have become more and more convincing, tricking more and more people out of their credit card data for any number of fake scenarios.
Don’t let this happen to you; play it safe and don’t give out your information online or over the phone.
If you do think a scenario seems legitimate, hang up and contact the card company through the number on your statement. They can verify or deny any additional interaction.
Staying diligent can help you keep your credit card safe at all times. If your card is hacked, be sure to follow the above best practices, such as contacting the credit bureau and tracing your credit card statements for any future charges that you did not make.
Doing so can help make this process easier while easing the burden of dealing with credit card theft.
Apply for VITAL now to take charge of your financial life with in-app features that let you monitor all account activity.
“6 Credit Card Scams and How To Avoid Them,” Nerdwallet
“How To Detect Credit Card Fraud,” MyBankTracker.com