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How to Report Credit Card Fraud

Last Updated: February 22, 2024
1 min read

Table of contents

Key points about: reporting credit card fraud

  1. Any unauthorized transaction on your credit card account could be a sign your personal information has been compromised.

  2. If you suspect credit card fraud, you should report it to your credit card issuer immediately.

  3. If you believe you’re the victim of identity theft, you should also contact the major credit bureaus and file a police report.

If you see a transaction you don’t recognize on your credit card account, even if it’s just a few pennies, don’t ignore it. It could be an unauthorized charge and a sign that your credit card number, your account, and your identity have been compromised. If you have reason to believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud, take action immediately.

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Here’s an overview of what to look for to spot credit card fraud or identity theft and more information on how to report credit card fraud if it happens to you.

Types of credit card fraud

Even the most careful people fall victim to credit card fraud. Why? Credit card fraud can occur in many ways. Credit cards can be lost or stolen, for example. Someone could access your personally identifying information by stealing your mail or looking over your shoulder at your phone screen. Additionally, people may hack systems that contain credit card information. Thieves might use spyware, which is software that is used to scrape important information from your computer or from the systems of online retailers where you shop. Let’s look at a couple of common credit card fraud methods.

  • Credit and debit card skimming: According to the FBI, “skimming” refers to stealing debit or credit card information via a special device—a skimmer—illegally attached to an ATM, gas pump, or point-of-sale terminal. Scammers use the information they collect from skimming to create fake cards and access victims’ accounts. While you may be able to identify a skimmer, it’s not always easy. Fortunately, chip credit cards are less vulnerable to skimming than older cards with only magnetic strips.
  • Email and phone phishing: “Phishing scams” occur when a perpetrator tricks a victim into sharing personal information, which is typically used to steal money or even your identity. Scammers may use phishing techniques to access your credit card information. In one common example, someone pretending to be an authority figure (like your boss) may email or text you a link and say it’s a vital document for you to sign. If you click the link, it installs malicious keylogging software on your computer. The software can record all the login names and passwords you type, which could allow access to your personal financial information.

The following steps could help you avoid credit card fraud:

  • Use ATMs in highly visible and well-lit indoor locations.
  • Whenever possible, use ATMs inside of your bank or credit card issuer’s office.
  • Don’t click on any links you’re not sure about, and don’t email unencrypted personal financial information, even if you trust the recipient.
  • If you’re contacted by phone, don’t divulge any sensitive information to anyone unless you have initiated the contact.
  • Never call the number or click on a link that suddenly pops up on your computer screen, especially if it claims that your computer has been infected with a virus.
  • Keep your antivirus and anti-malware programs updated.
  • Try to use credit and debit cards with the chip instead of the magnetic strip.

If your credit card gets stolen, temporarily freezing your account could help you prevent unauthorized transactions as you report fraud. With Discover®, you can freeze your account to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers in seconds.Each Discover® Card comes with this feature.

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Reporting credit card fraud

Knowing how to report credit card fraud is extremely important in resolving the issue. If you detect fraudulent charges, call your credit card company as soon as possible. The phone number can typically be found on the back of your credit card, or you can find it on the credit card issuer’s website. Some, like Discover, have 24/7, U.S.-based, live customer service.3

If, in addition to fraudulent charges, you believe your identity has been stolen, you should take a few more steps:

  • Contact the credit bureaus: You’ll want to contact each of the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian®, and Equifax) to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. With fraud alerts, lenders must verify your identity when someone attempts to open a new account under your name. In serious cases, you may also take a more intense option: placing a credit freeze on your reports with each credit bureau. This makes it more difficult for thieves to open an account in your name by preventing credit report inquiries unless you temporarily lift the freeze on your report when applying for a new account.
  • File a police report: It’s important to file an identity theft report with your local police precinct if you have evidence that your identity has been stolen. Make sure you keep a copy of the police report because you may need to submit it to creditors and others.
  • File a report with the FTC: The Federal Trade Commission provides a dedicated website that helps you report identity theft and provides a streamlined personal recovery plan to help you get back to normal.

Identity protection can help detect fraud

As a Discover® Cardmember, you may have yet another option to help you protect your identity and personally identifiable information.

Did you know?

With Discover® Identity Theft Protection, you can get additional protection that monitors your personal information at thousands of data sources for just $15/mo.4 Discover Identity Theft Protection comes with a range of additional security features.

Be sure to stay vigilant in guarding your personal information from identity theft whenever possible, which can help mitigate the risks. Your digital DNA is everywhere, so it’s best to protect it.

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