by Bernard D. Nomberg, Partner, The Nomberg Law Firm
Your credit card gets declined but you know you have a zero balance.
You receive a phone call from your credit card company questioning charges.
You review your monthly statement and it shows purchases you do not recognize.
These frustrating things happen every day to millions of people who are victims of credit card theft and fraud. It’s extremely difficult to prevent but there are some things you can do to help yourself should this happen.
Credit card theft and fraud is a continual worry as most people are using credit cards as their primary payment in person and online. Typically, credit card fraud is connected to theft of your identity and your personal information is often used to take out other lines of credit in your name. There are several steps you can take to protect your identity, credit, and money.
- Limit the number of credit cards in your name – Keep it simple. Do not overextend yourself by using multiple cards. The more simple approach is to limit yourself to 1-2 cards. Less to deal with.
- Sign up for Fraud Alerts – Most major credit card companies and banks include a service for fraud alerts in which you will get a phone call or email when someone is using your card in a location without your permission. Once you have been alerted, most banks will freeze your account, cancel the card, and issue a new card.
- Report Lost or Stolen Cards Immediately – The sooner you report a lost or missing credit card, the sooner your credit card issuer can cancel your credit card and prevent fraudulent charges. Reporting your lost or stolen credit card as soon as possible lowers the likelihood that you will have to pay for any fraudulent charges made on your credit card.
- Continue to Check your Credit Card Statement – Closely review your credit card statement after your card has been lost or stolen. If you see any fraudulent or unfamiliar charges, call your credit card company as soon as possible.
- Keep your Account Number Secure – Make sure that any online purchases are done through reputable websites to prevent any possibility of fraud or your account information getting shared.
- Check annually with the three credit reporting agencies* – confirm there are no credit cards taken out in your name and without your permission. Click here: https://www.usa.gov/credit-reports
Steps to take When Your Credit Card Has Been Lost or Stolen
- Call your credit card company immediately. Many have zero-liability policies, meaning you won’t be responsible for any fraudulent charges made on your accounts.
- Keep track of your online passwords and pins while also changing them occasionally.
- Monitor your credit card statements and credit reports.
- Keep an eye on your bank statement. If you notice any signs of fraud, notify your bank immediately.
- Keep track of your cards and if there are any you do not use, store them in a secure place.
- Keep a record of all your credit card information in a safe location. Including account numbers, expiration dates, and telephone numbers for each issuer. This way, you will be ready to report a lost or stolen credit card when you need to.
- If you know who stole and used your credit card without your permission or knowledge, criminal prosecution can be pursued. Each state’s laws differ so consult with an attorney in your community for detailed opinions on this subject.
*Credit Reporting Agencies
Equifax by phone at 1-866-349-5191.
Experian by phone at 1-888-397-3742.
TransUnion by phone at 1-800-916-8800.
For more information on this subject:
Credit Card Fraud: What to Do If You’re a Victim: https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/preventing-fraud/credit-card-fraud-what-to-do-if-you-are-a-victim/
11 Types Of Credit Card Fraud: https://www.consumerprotect.com/crime-fraud/11-types-of-credit-card-fraud-scams/
Bernard D. Nomberg has been a lawyer for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. In 2018, Bernard was named a Super Lawyer for the 6th year in a row and he was recognized as one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Alabama.