Whether you got pick-pocketed or your credit card information was stolen online, it can be scary to realize someone has been making charges on your card. As soon as you notice fraudulent charges make sure you contact your credit card provider immediately. Here are the four steps you may want to take as soon as possible.
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1. Reporting Credit Card Theft
The second you notice your missing wallet, unusual charges appear on your credit card, or statements or packages for things you didn’t order begin showing up at your home, call your credit card company. You don’t want to delay, especially if the card itself was stolen, so that you can put a stop to the fraudulent charges.
Depending on your credit card company, it is possible your existing card will be cancelled and you will be issued a new one. If you begin receiving bills in the mail for items the thief bought with your card, call your credit card company and tell them what happened.
2. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Card Statements
Even after reporting the theft, take a look at your next credit card statement. Make sure every fraudulent charge has been identified for handling, and no new charges have appeared since. In the future, keep up the habit of looking at your statements closely, so you can act fast the second you notice any unusual charges.
You can also set up alerts with some credit card companies, and they’ll text or email you if a charge for over a certain amount was made. This isn’t foolproof. However, it can help you in the event someone takes your card on a large shopping spree.
3. Look Out For Identity Theft
Canceling your stolen card will stop someone from spending any more of your money. Discover also makes it easy to freeze your card with Freeze it® if you misplace your card. You can freeze your account at any time with our website or mobile app to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers. 1 It’s like an on/off switch for your account. But after you determine that your card is lost or stolen, you should contact your credit card issuer immediately.
If personal information, like your date of birth, Social Security number, and so on, was compromised, take steps to potentially stop someone from opening new accounts in your name. Place a fraud alert with all of the credit bureaus. This will make it more difficult for anyone to open a new line of credit in your name.
If you see any unfamiliar transactions on any of the credit reports, like a bank account or credit line that you didn’t open, it’s time to get the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) involved. That sounds scary, but don’t worry, they have an easy-to-follow site with detailed instructions for reversing the damage. 2
If you have been a victim of identity theft, it may be a good idea to put a credit freeze on your credit report. However, there are many effects of freezing your credit so make sure you read all the details on the FTC website before moving forward.
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4. Stay Vigilant
Cleaning up the mess left by credit card theft will hopefully be just a temporary annoyance, and the experience will make you more aware of your credit than ever before. After the dust settles, check your credit card statements regularly and look through each of your credit reports annually. It may also be a good idea to look into using fraud protection tools to help avoid going through the process all over again.
The most important things to remember are to keep a close watch on your purse or wallet, call your credit card provider as soon as you notice fraudulent transactions, and contact the credit bureaus to set up fraud alerts. While it’s unfortunate that credit card theft happens, there is a system in place to help victims. If you keep a close watch on your statements, you’ll be able to address the problem and find a solution.