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How to Report and Prevent Credit Card Fraud

How to Report and Prevent Credit Card Fraud

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Sep 06, 2018, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Have you been alerted of a potentially fraudulent charge on your credit card account or don’t recognize a transaction on your statement? If the answer is yes, you may be the victim of credit card fraud.

A recent study conducted by CompareCards® found that in 2017, an estimated 33 million Americans may have been the victims of card fraud. The majority of victims said their card numbers were stolen while the cards were still in their possession. This is the most common type of fraud today, with hackers obtaining your name, address, card’s account number, expiration date, and verification or security code to make purchases online.

Another type of fraud that’s often in the new is credit card skimming.

“Credit card skimming has become a really big issue throughout the country,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards. “Most of the issue is happening at gas stations because they don’t have to change their terminals to accept chip cards until 2020.” As a result, fraudsters have shifted focus to skimming and it’s become really widespread — from big cities to small towns.

With credit card fraud on the rise, the best thing you can do is make an action plan. There are steps you can take to safeguard against credit card fraud and to recover from an account breach. In this guide, we’ll review the actions you can take to limit your exposure to fraud and break down the process on how to report fraud with the major banks.

After you’ve been hacked: How to report credit card fraud

Contact your bank. If you suspect fraud on your credit card account, the first thing you should do is contact your bank. In most cases, it’s easiest to call the number on the back of your card, but some banks have dedicated fraud lines — which we list in the next section.

Once you contact your bank, they will suspend transactions on your card, cancel the card, and mail you a new one with a new account number. The new card may take up to 10 days to arrive — though you can often ask for rush delivery. In the meantime, you won’t be able to use your compromised credit card.

Next, the bank will begin an investigation and will most likely issue a provisional credit for charges you stated as fraudulent, typically within 10 days or less. If the investigation determines the disputed charges were not authorized, the provisional credit becomes permanent. All of the banks listed in the next section offer $0 liability on unauthorized charges. We strongly suggest changing your username, password and PIN to prevent further fraud.

Dispute fraudulent activity on your credit report. In some cases, you may not realize someone has opened a credit card account in your name until you happen to check your credit report and see the card listed. Worst of all, they might have been racking up charges and not paying the account, leaving derogatory marks on your credit file all the way.

For this type of fraud, call the card issuer itself immediately to report the account under your name as fraudulent. Also, Schulz recommends filing a dispute with the one of the credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. By law, the bureau you report fraud to is required to contact the other two. But Schulz said it isn’t a bad idea to still contact the other bureaus, just in case.

Additional steps you can take include filing a police report and a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Schulz said, “[Noticing fraud] should be a wake-up call for you to examine your financial routine.” You should regularly review your credit report and score as well as check your online bank statement and credit card statement. “Overall, it’s good to keep your eyes open and not let your guard down after a certain amount of time … remain diligent.”

How to report credit card fraud by bank

Each bank has a slightly different process for dealing with credit card fraud, and in the table below, we break down how to contact the bank (most banks recommend calling the number on the back of your card), when you should expect to receive a new card in the mail and the time frame for when your account will be credited for fraudulent charges.

Bank Number for reporting fraud When you’ll receive a new card When your account will be credited
American Express The number on the back of your card Often within 2-5 business days Immediately, upon notification
Bank of America The number on the back of your card 4-6 business days, but the card can be overnighted on request In most cases, provisional credit is applied the next business day
Barclays The number on the back of your card or the customer security team at 1-866-928-8598 7-10 business days or less. Can request expedited shipping, for a nominal fee Provisional credit is typically applied within 5-7 days
Capital One 1-800-427-9428 It depends on the individual scenario It depends on the individual scenario
Chase The number on the back of your card 3-5 business days for regular mail or next day if requested Immediately, upon notification
Citi The number on the back of your card It depends on the individual scenario It depends on the individual scenario
Discover 1-866-240-7938 Free overnight card delivery, at your request Receive a provisional credit within 10 days
HSBC Premier cards: 1-888-662-4722;

 

Advance cards: 1-866-584-4722;

 

All other credit cards 1-888-385-8916

7-10 days, in certain circumstances shipment can be expedited if a customer requests it May be as quick as 1-2 days
Wells Fargo 1-800-869-3557 5-7 days, cardholders can request overnight domestic card delivery and rush international for a fee*, though it may take longer to arrive depending on location

*The fee will be waived once fraud has been confirmed.

Typically within 7 calendar days and in many cases, much sooner

Before fraud occurs: How to monitor your account

Sometimes your bank will alert you of potentially fraudulent charges, but other times it’s up to you to find instances of fraud. According to our survey, the majority of fraud victims (47%) stated that their bank or credit card issuer contacted them about fraud, and 37% stated they noticed fraud from reviewing their account statements. Therefore, it’s key to frequently review your account activity for unfamiliar charges.

Review your accounts daily. We recommend being proactive about reviewing your charges and checking more often than just when you receive your statement — checking at least once a week is a good start. If you really want to be ahead of fraud, you can check your account activity daily. A convenient and simple way to review your account activity is via your bank’s mobile app or website.

Sign up for transaction alerts with your bank(s). Another helpful tip is to set up alerts with your bank for certain account occurrences. Many banks allow you to set up alerts if purchases are made exceeding a certain dollar amount or if transfers are made from your account, among other actions. These alerts can potentially catch fraudulent activity and notify you via email, text or push notification.

Use a credit monitoring tool. Signing up for a free credit monitoring tool, like My LendingTree, that monitors your credit daily and sends alerts for changes and potential suspicious activity is a great way to stay on top of your credit. Disclosure: LendingTree is the parent company of CompareCards. My LendingTree also provides users with the ability to confirm or dispute changes on their credit report like new accounts, credit inquiries, delinquencies and more.

The best ways to prevent credit card fraud

While you can never completely prevent fraud from occurring, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk of falling victim to fraud:

  • Keep your info close to the chest. When speaking on the phone, only provide your credit card and personal information after verifying you’re speaking to a trusted source.
  • When online shopping, stick to sites with web addresses that begin with “https.” The “s” means the site is secure and safe to enter personal information. Sites without the “s” can pose a risk. Most browsers like Chrome and Safari include a lock icon on the address bar before the URL, signifying a secure site.
  • Log out of online accounts when you’re done shopping, and for added protection, don’t store passwords in your computer’s keychain.
  • Change your passwords regularly. It’s a good habit to change your bank and online passwords regularly. Don’t use the same password for multiple sites and try to include uppercase letters, symbols and numbers to make your password hard to guess.
  • Try to avoid using public Wi-Fi, especially when making purchases, since it often is unsecured and you can risk a data breach or getting hacked.
  • Be wary of where you enter personal information in public. For example, if you’re in line at a coffee shop and purchasing an item on your phone, it isn’t the best idea to hold up your phone while entering your credit card information and other personal data since people behind you can potentially see your information.
  • Keep your wallet on you at all times. While it should go without saying, don’t leave your wallet unattended, like on a table, if you step away to take a call. You never know who’s lurking to steal your possessions.
  • Keep a regular eye on your bank accounts and credit card accounts. Fraudsters typically make a small purchase of a dollar or two to make sure the information they stole works. Then, once the transaction goes through they’ll start charging larger amounts. If you can spot the small transaction early on, you can prevent further fraud.
  • Check your credit score on a regular basis. Regularly monitoring your credit score can help you notice potential fraud. Schulz mentioned, “if you see a change [to your credit score] and you haven’t done anything to spur that change, that may be a sign of fraud.” For example, if you have a 750 score today, then notice it dropped to 650 next week without you taking any action to cause the drop, that’s most likely a sign something bad — like fraud — occurred. LendingTree’s free credit score service is a great resource to check your credit score and review factors that influence your score.

What happens if a debit card is hacked?

When compared with credit card fraud, victims of debit card fraud have fewer protections and are liable for more unauthorized charges. If you’re a victim of credit card fraud, your maximum liability is $50 — with most issuers providing $0 fraud liability. That means if a fraudster steals $1,500 from your account, the credit card company isn’t going to hold you accountable for returning the funds.

However, with debit card fraud, you can potentially be liable for all fraudulent charges, depending on when you report the fraud. See the table below for a breakdown of how much you may be responsible for if you report your debit card missing — that means your card is not in your possession and someone used it to make unauthorized charges.

Note: The table below doesn’t apply if someone makes unauthorized charges with your debit card number and you still have your physical debit card. If that’s the case, you won’t be responsible for the charges if you report them within 60 days of your statement being sent to you.

Due to the potentially high loss you can experience from debit card fraud, we want to stress how important it is to keep an eye on your statements so you can notice and report any fraud immediately.

If you report: Your maximum loss:
Before any unauthorized charges are made. $0
Within 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft. $50
More than 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft, but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you. $500
More than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you. All the money taken from your ATM/debit card account, and possibly more; for example, money in accounts linked to your debit account.

If you notice unauthorized transactions on your debit card, report it immediately to your bank so you can minimize your potential loss and prevent further fraudulent charges. The contact information for the major banks can be found in the next section.

How to report debit card fraud by bank

Similar to the table on how to report credit card fraud, below we list how you can contact your bank if you experience fraud on your debit card, how long it typically takes to receive a new card and when your account will be credited.

Bank Number for reporting fraud When you’ll receive a new card When your account will be credited
Bank of America The number on the back of your card 4-6 business days, but the card can be overnighted on request In most cases, provisional credit is applied the next business day
Capital One 1-800-427-9428 It depends on the individual scenario It depends on the individual scenario
Chase The number on the back of your card 3-5 business days for regular mail or next day if requested Immediately, upon notification
Citi The number on the back of your card It depends on the individual scenario It depends on the individual scenario
Discover 1-877-737-1931 Replacements are sent via standard mail for receipt within 7 days, however, all Discover checking customers can request expedited delivery free of charge Receive a provisional credit within 2 days
HSBC 1-888-385-8916 7-10 days, in certain circumstances shipment can be expedited if a customer requests it May be as quick as 1-2 days
Wells Fargo 1-800-869-3557 5-7 days, cardholders can request overnight domestic card delivery and rush international at no added fee, though it may take longer to arrive depending on location Typically within 7 calendar days and in many cases, much sooner

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