Credit card fraud is one of those things you hear about but never expect to happen to you.
I felt the same exact way and now realize that I was wrong.
I never should have felt I was above credit card fraud to begin with.
While I am careful with where I use my credit cards, there are so many different ways people can steal your credit card information.
It seems it is no longer a question of if you’ll ever be hit with credit card fraud but when you will be hit with credit card fraud.
How To Recognize Credit Card Fraud
Recognizing that you’ve been hit with credit card fraud is the first step. If you don’t realize someone else is using your credit card how can you report the fraud?
This is exactly why I monitor my credit card transactions at least monthly and reconcile my receipts to my credit card statement. Sometimes there are honest mistakes but most of the time if something seems out of the ordinary it is fraud.
Just recently I was looking at my transactions through my bank’s online access and saw a charge for what looked like Proactiv Solution… you know… the acne product you see on TV all of the time.
The thing is, I don’t have acne problems and have never once ordered any Proactiv product.
What To Do When You Are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud
Before you go screaming fraud, first make sure the transaction in questions isn’t simply something you forgot. Make sure an authorized user didn’t charge something and simply forget to tell you about it.
Next, if you’re still pretty sure the transactions are fraudulent then you need to take action immediately.
I called my credit card company to make sure that the transaction was what it appeared to be and they were able to give me a phone number for the company that was attached to the transaction. I called the company and, sure enough, it was Proactiv.
It was at that point I knew I was hit with credit card fraud.
I immediately called my credit card company back and told them I had been hit with a fraudulent transaction. They cancelled my current card and overnighted me a new card.
I asked what would happen to the person who committed the fraud and my credit card company told me it goes to their fraud department where they decide whether it is worth looking into or not.
In addition to getting a new credit card issued, you can also file a police report. The main reasons why I didn’t was because it was only one small transaction AND it was an online purchase.
If there were many local fraudulent transactions or a large fraudulent transaction I definitely would have filed a police report. This wasn’t worth my time or effort for a $20 online purchase as the local police wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
What Will Happen to The Scammer?
Since this transaction was only $20 I doubt anyone would look into it because it would cost more than simply refunding my account $20 for the charge.
This is a real bummer because it means people can continue to get away with this petty theft while increasing costs for people who use credit cards, whether it be merchants (transaction fees) or consumers (interest rates).
Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud? What happened and what did you do after finding out about it?
P.S. – Things got interesting… it sounds like things have gone from credit card fraud to full blown identity theft.
Lance Cothern, CPA holds a CPA license in Indiana. He’s a personal finance, debt and credit expert that writes professionally for top-tier publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Business Insider and more.
Additionally, his expertise has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Kiplinger, Reuters, CNBC and more.
Lance is the founder of Money Manifesto. He started writing about money and helping people solve their financial problems in 2012. You can read more about him and find links to his other work and media mentions here.