I recently opened my credit card statement to discover several purchases had been charged to my account that I hadn’t made. This happens all the time, and most people react with anger or fear. Honestly though, there is really no reason to worry.
If you handle it correctly you will no not be out a dime and all it will cost you is the time it takes to make a quick phone call. Here is what I did to get all my money back.
What the law says about credit card fraud
The good news is that banking law is 100% on your side when it comes to credit card fraud. According to the FTC, if your actual physical card is stolen you could be out as much as $50 if the card is used before you report it stolen to your card company and you report it stolen within two days. In practice, your probably not going to be out the $50. As a gesture of goodwill most credit card companies will refund the entire amount including the $50 so that you will feel safe using your card.
The fraud that occurred on my credit card is the more common variety where the actual card was still in my possession, but the card number was somehow stolen. I am guessing it was stolen from the home depot data breach, but there is no real way to tell for sure. So many data breaches have occurred the last several years it could have been from anywhere.
If your card number is stolen, but not the actual card then you have even less to worry about. All you have to do is report the fraudulent transactions within 60 days of receiving your statement and all your money will be refunded. Really, that’s all there is to it. One phone call and you are done.
Your credit card company is the victim, not you.
What to do before you are a victim of credit card fraud
The biggest thing you can do to prevent credit card fraud is look over your credit card statement real close each month. Examine each and every line item to make sure it was really a purchase you made. In order to not be held liable for credit card fraud, the only thing you have to do is check your statement and report fraud if you find it. Since you only have one responsibility, be sure to do it each and every month.
What to do if there is credit card fraud
After seeing the fraudulent purchases on my statement I immediately called my credit card company. This phone call is much easier to make than a normal phone call to your credit card company. If you try to call normal customer service it is likely you will have to go through a lengthy phone tree to get to a person to speak to, and then will have to wait on hold before actually talking to them.
The guys at the credit card company who deal with fraud are different. Your credit card company doesn’t really want you to talk to normal customer service because it costs them money. But, reporting your card number has been stolen saves them money since they will be able to turn the card number off and prevent any further fraudulent purchases from being made.
Since these calls save them money the bank will almost certainly give you much better customer service. Just call the number on your statement, select the lost or stolen card option (which is likely to be option 1) and you will almost certainly be connected immediately.
Next, just tell the representative there are fraudulent transactions on your card, answer the questions they ask you, and then stop worrying. Your problems are now over. Well, this one is anyway. All your other problems are still hanging around.
In my case the representative told me they might mail me a form to sign, but it never actually showed up. I checked my balance a day or two later and the fraudulent charges were gone. It really is that easy.
1. Check your credit card statement carefully each month.
2. If you discover credit card fraud, call your credit card company and report it.
3. Relax, all the money will be refunded. You aren’t the victim here, your credit card company is.
Photo courtesty of www.gotcredit.com