I’m a Victim of Credit Card Fraud… What Do I Do?

what to do if you are a victim of credit card fraudCredit 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.

Related: Best Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses Available This Month

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. Here are the details of what happened next.

Photo by: Images of Money Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I was a victim but it was much more of an issue in order to get things resolved. I didn’t notice it, nor report it till after 72 hrs, therefore the bank and credit card company were not very enjoyable to work with. It also took several months and has made me rethink my actions whenever I use my cards. The individual was someone I went to school with and must have seen me use my pin before (even thou I’m extremely careful with protecting it) That’s where I ran into the issue. Because said individual knew my pin I had to fight in order to prove that I did not make any of the purchases. He ran up almost $5,000 in spending and cash advances. I don’t think he was ever caught even though the bank had camera’s and he was seen around campus wearing items from stores I knew he had shopped at. I finished school while the investigation was still going on, so I assume that police just dropped it. After all was said and done, I only received half of the money back from the credit card company. It was a very hard lesson to learn, but now I am extremely careful.

  2. I was recently an identity theft victim too – unemployment benefits fraud. Here’s a list of what I did to try and close as many holes as I could. http://www.plantingourpennies.com/2013/02/01/apparently-im-unemployed-who-knew/

    Good luck – it’s gonna be a PITA, but I’d recommend filing with the IRS ASAP as it takes forever to get your identity theft pin.

  3. Everyone will be a victim eventually. Sorry to hear about the issues Lance. Luckily it was a small transaction, but intrigued to hear about the potential identity theft. That is no joke.

  4. Wow, sorry to hear that Lance! My best friends wife had her identity stolen a number of years ago and it was a pain in the neck to get it straightened out. My closest brush with this was last year and my credit card company called asking if I was travelling up & down the West Cost, to which I answered no. Apparently someone got my number and charged several thousand dollars which caught the cc companies eye.

  5. I’ve been hit a few times, usually with my debit card. Luckily my bank has been extremely good at catching this and notifying me plus, I’ve neer had to absorb any of the fraudulent uses. The calls are usually interesting, BANK: “Hello Mr Nieto, We’ve noticed some unusual activity on your card. ME: “Really, can you tell me what you have seen?”. BANK: Well, have you been to Mexico City in the last week”? ME: “nope, haven’t been there in years”. BANK: “There appears to be 15 charges for xyz transportation in the range of $22 to $40 dollars. ME: “Sounds like fraud” and so on. Luckily my bank has always refunded the money and I haven’t had to take a loss. The biggest problem is the inconvenience of having to wait two weeks for a replacement card!

  6. wow sorry to hear. I have had withdrawals on my card from Colombia, thankfully I was in France that day withdrawing money too so the bank refunded swiftly, the only problem was waiting for a new card to be issued…

  7. Wow- that sucks! I had my debit card stolen once and it was quite a hassle, so I feel for you. I hope you get this all sorted out soon!

  8. Sorry to hear this happened to you.

    I was a victim in the past and I was so lucky with how easy it was to fix things. I called the credit card company and they reversed the charges right away. They were so atypical that they hardly questioned it.

  9. Why won’t the credit card companies tell me who is trying to use my card, and open new accounts?

    • There are a variety of reasons but sadly they will probably never tell you. They probably have to deal with liability of you getting harmed by having the information and trying to investigate it yourself would by my guess.

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