In 2016, according to a Javelin Strategy & Research report, 15.4 million consumers fell victim to identity theft or fraud, with the cost of the fraud reaching $16 billion. Since this can happen to even the most careful people, it’s important to know how to report credit card fraud if you catch it.

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What to do if You Suspect Credit Card Fraud

If you detect fraudulent charges, call your card issuer. The phone number can typically be found on the back of your credit card, or you can find it on their website, and most have toll-free numbers and agents available 24 hours a day.

If, in addition to fraudulent charges, 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, in which lenders must verify your identity when someone attempts to open a new account under your name. There is also a more intense option to place a credit freeze on your reports. This makes it more difficult for thieves to open an account in your name by not allowing credit report inquiries unless you personally “thaw” your report when applying for a new account. (Check out more details in the next section.)

File a police report at your local police station. Make sure you keep a copy of the report, which you may need to submit to creditors, and also to file Identity Theft Reports.

In 2016, according to a Javelin Strategy & Research report, 15.4 million consumers fell victim to identity theft or fraud, with the cost of the fraud reaching $16 billion.

Credit Freeze on your Credit Report

A credit freeze locks down your credit report. This can help thwart potential identity theft since thieves will have a hard time opening new accounts in your name, as creditors typically ask to see your credit report before allowing you to open an account. As the consumer, you will have the ability to call the bureaus and ask for the freeze to be lifted when you want to apply for credit or a loan, and then re-freeze your report afterward.

A credit freeze does not affect your credit score, and you have the option of temporarily lifting the credit freeze or removing it as desired.

Types of Credit Card Fraud

Even the most careful people fall victim. Why? Credit card fraud can occur in various ways. Credit cards can be lost or stolen, someone could get hold of your mail and can gain your personally identifying information. Additionally, systems with credit card information could be broken into. Thieves may also use spyware, or software that is used to scrape important information from your computer or from the system of online retailers you shop at.

Another method is skimming, in which thieves use a small device to copy and store your credit card information at checkout. Phishing is another method used by criminals to carry out credit card fraud. Phishing is when thieves may send you an email and ask for important information like your social security number or your credit card or bank account numbers. They be hard to detect because they pose as reputable companies or organizations.

Bottom Line

Be sure to stay vigilant in protecting your personal information whenever possible, which can help mitigate the risk. Check out some ways to help keep your information safe, and Discover cardmembers can access additional helpful security resources.

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.