How To Handle Unauthorized Credit Card Charges

Even with all these safety measures in place, it’s best to be mindful of credit card fraud. If your card is lost or stolen, contact your credit card issuer right away so it can cancel your card and send you a replacement. Fortunately, besides being rare (that’s why it makes the news, after all), most credit card companies cover fraudulent charges to your card as long as the loss isn’t because of your personal actions.

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If a restaurant is involved in a scam, there may be no way to know because cards are often handed to the server who can then swipe the card through a skimmer before giving it back to the customer. Authentic card readers are robustly manufactured, meaning if any part of the card reader can easily move around, then it’s probably been installed illegally by a thief. If the buttons on an ATM’s keypad are too hard to push, don’t use that ATM and try another one. Gas pumps should have a security tape or sticker over the cabinet panel. If the tape looks ripped or broken, avoid using the card reader because a thief may have tampered with it. Try looking inside the card reader to see if anything is already inserted—if there is, it may be a thin plastic circuit board that can steal card information. Identify theft can often result in a drop in your credit score and other errors, so you’ll want to dispute any problems as soon as possible.

If you lose your credit card or have it stolen, contact the issuer right away to have the card number changed and the card replaced. It’s also possible to place a hold on a credit card if you believe the card was simply misplaced, but still want to be protected. In many cases, victims won’t realize it until a fraudulent purchase is discovered on their account statements.

If you’re using a device that is connected to a publicly shared internet connection, you are vulnerable to hackers. For example, let’s say you’re at your favorite coffee shop and you automatically connect to their public Wi-Fi. If you decide to take care of some bills or other banking business on your phone from inside this coffee shop, you are at risk of cybercriminals hacking into your device through this Wi-Fi channel. There are also credit card fraud prevention measures that could be taking place without you noticing.

Roger lost $16,000 to a scam. While others have been given full refunds, he was only returned $6,000

It’s important to take these steps even if you think your card was simply misplaced or lost. There are several common ways that criminals gain access to your personal information.

How Was Your Credit Card Stolen?

I would definitely look closely at both your local network and computer security and keep a close eye on where you’re using the card. It’s possible that malware on a machine could be “sniffing” (watching) the traffic on your network. Usually that’s not the case, but given the number of times things have gone wrong for you, it’s something else that comes to mind. Always make sure you’re running the latest version of both the software and its malware database. Make sure that all of your security software is up to date, running the most recent versions, and running its most recent database. Remember, the version of the software may change every year or six months or so, but the database it uses will change daily, if not multiple times per day. Public internet networks, like the ones you find in hotels and airports, can easily put you at risk if you enter your account information or open sensitive documents and someone is monitoring the network.

Protecting yourself and others from credit card fraud

But it’s a good idea to check your credit report, keep an eye on your other accounts and monthly statements and regularly change your online passwords. When you check your credit report, look for unfamiliar inquiries, new accounts you didn’t authorize or addresses where you’ve never lived, as these can be signs that someone has stolen your identity. Additionally, make sure you recognize all activity on your accounts and bank statements. If you notice any issues, take appropriate action quickly, as you could be a victim of identity theft. Protect yourself by knowing their most common schemes and proactively taking steps to avoid them.

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Often the next step is to receive a new credit card with a new card number by mail. After you’ve reported the identity theft to the proper authorities and begun the process to settle disputes in your credit reports, you may want to take one or two more steps to continue to protect your credit. All three credit bureaus also allow you to lock your credit when you enroll in their individual programs. Certain credit lock programs may also offer extra benefits such as credit monitoring. These options allow you to add protection to your credit and give you peace of mind.

Physical credit card statements often include your credit card number, making them inviting targets for scammers who have learned how to exploit the United States Postal Service (USPS) system. In fact, the BankCard data breach may have compromised other personal data such as customer account numbers and Social Security numbers (SSN). But you can minimize the inconvenience of credit card fraud by spotting it early and reporting it quickly. Although both a balance transfer credit card and a retail credit card with deferred interest won’t charge you interest during the introductory period, that’s where the similarities end.

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