When you see fraudulent activity on your credit card statement — usually an unfamiliar charge — what is your first reaction? To reach for the phone?

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When you don’t recognize a charge, it could be for a variety of reasons. It could be a fraudulent charge, but it’s also possible that a retailer bills under a different name, or maybe an authorized user on the card made the purchase without informing you. Either way — whether the card was stolen or not — there are steps that can be taken if you notice fraud on your credit card statement.

First, Consider Your Recent Purchases

Before you report fraudulent activity, be sure that the purchase in question is not simply a legitimate one billed under a name you don’t recognize. You might want to think back to any purchases you might have made recently to see if the amount of the charge lines up with it.

The next step is to speak with any other users who have access to the card — such as other family members on a joint card or any authorized user you may have named.

Then It’s Time to Make the Call

If you believe the transaction in question indicates fraudulent activity, then it’s time to contact your card issuer directly. (You do not go to the merchant in question, as you would with a delivery dispute or other issue.) For example, to report fraudulent activity, Discover cardmembers would call 1-866-240-7938 to talk with a credit card fraud specialist, or could also call the Customer Service number on the back of their credit card.

Every issuer has its own procedures for handling fraud concerns, so calling the customer service number on the back of your card is a good place to start. It’s important to specify to your issuer that the origin of the charge is unknown and that you may be a victim of fraud.

To make things as easy as possible, be sure to have all the details about the charge: the name of the retailer, the date of purchase, the purchase amount and any other related factors. Providing the relevant information will make it easier for your issuer to identify the transaction and trigger its fraud response activities.

What Happens Next

When fraud is suspected, your issuer will typically immediately freeze your account to prevent further unauthorized activity and the fraud team will open an investigation.

You can expect to be asked to stop using all cards, PINs and checks associated with your credit card account, because your issuer will provide you with a new card.

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Discover cardmembers have a $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee, which means that they are not responsible for unauthorized purchases on their Discover card account.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.