Credit Card Fraud: What to do if you become a victim.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers that even if their credit or debit card never leaves their sight, they could still become a victim of fraud or identity theft and need to be prepared to act quickly to minimize the damage. The BBB is encouraging consumers to become savvier and keep a close eye on their credit and debit card statements for suspicious activity. BBB offers the following advice that will help consumers resolve the issues as quickly as possible. See the topics below for more information.
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Step One: Contact the Issuer
Protect your ATM and debit cards as if they were cash. Report lost or stolen cards immediately. Don’t write your PIN on your card or give the number out to anyone, including friends and family, and do not reveal it to anyone over the phone. Avoid using numbers that are easily identified (birth date, phone number, etc.) with your personal identity.
Step Two: Contact the Authorities
If a credit or debit card has been stolen or if the consumer has noticed fraudulent charges on their account, they can file a report with the local police. The consumer will want to get a copy of the police report to confirm the nature of the fraudulent charges with the issuer and the credit reporting bureaus, and should file reports with the Federal Trade Commission, at www.ftc.gov.
Step Three: Contact Credit Reporting Bureaus
There are three credit bureaus that monitor activity on consumer credit accounts: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The three bureaus can flag, or place an alert on an account for fraudulent activity, which then requires that they contact the cardholder before any new lines of credit are opened. Consumers can also ask to have an account frozen – which means their credit history can’t be reviewed by lenders and prevents new lines of credit from being opened – but keep in mind it may take several days to unfreeze accounts in the future.
Step Four: Stay Vigilant
It’s a good idea for consumers to follow up calls to their credit card issuer or credit reporting bureaus with a letter outlining key details and summarizing when they alerted the issuer and bureau to the loss or fraud. As a victim of ID theft, consumers can receive a copy of their report free-of-charge and should review credit reports with all three bureaus for any suspicious activity. Lastly, it is important that consumers continue to keep a close eye on their credit card statements, checking accounts, and credit reports well into the future for any suspicious activity.