What To Do If You’ve Been Affected by Credit Card Fraud

While we would all like to think credit card fraud will never happen to us, it unfortunately affects a startling number of Aussie’s every year. According to the Australian Payments Network, there was a total of $494 million in fraud in 2019 alone. 

While this number is on the decline thanks to increased technology and security measures, it’s still essential to know what to do if fraud happens to you. Unlike debit cards, credit cards are often the primary target of fraud and scams. Most banks take protective steps to keep customers safe, but you’re still responsible for your own financial security. 

In this digital day and age, education is key. The more you know about credit card fraud, the better equipped you’ll be to protect yourself, your finances, and your future. Here’s what to do if you’ve been affected by credit card fraud. 

What Is Credit Card Fraud?

First, let’s define what credit card fraud is exactly. It can sometimes take many different forms. The most common type of credit card fraud is unauthorised transactions. This is when you see a suspicious charge on your credit card statement that you suspect you didn’t make yourself. This happens when someone takes your credit card information (like your account number and pin) to make unauthorised purchases.

Another type of credit card fraud is a little more sinister. Sometimes, scammers use your information to open a new credit card in your name. This is a form of identity theft, and you might not even know someone’s opened a card in your name until it’s too late. 

How does credit card fraud happen? There are a lot of different ways thieves find your information:

  • Trash Believe it or not, many thieves go through your trash or discarded paper to find receipts, credit card statements, and personal information. 
  • Stolen Your card could physically be stolen or copied. 
  • Tricked Some websites exist solely to steal your credit card information. For instance, you might mistakenly enter your credit card info on a website thinking you’re making a purchase when really your information is being taken. 
  • Credit card skimmers – A credit card skimmer is a device placed on ATMs or anywhere else you swipe your card. This allows thieves to steal card information. 
  • Data breach Unfortunately, sometimes data breaches mean your information has been leaked to scammers. 
  • Someone you know Lastly, sometimes friends and family might use your card without your consent and this is a form of fraud. 

It’s important to keep a close eye on your bank statements, credit rating, and so on. You can check your credit rating for free, and this is a good habit to get into to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. If you suspect you’ve been affected by credit card fraud, take the steps below. 

1. Contact Your Bank

The first thing you should do is contact your bank. Your financial institution likely has a line or point of contact specifically for reporting fraud. They can freeze your account and help you understand what happened. Sometimes you might not recognise the merchant name, or perhaps another authorised user on the account made a purchase. 

If it is indeed fraud, the bank will take over from here. They usually have a team who reviews fraud to recover the funds and make sure your account is secure again.

However, in the meantime, you might be left without access to this credit card. You can speak with your bank about options for accessing any funds while you’re waiting. Otherwise, utilise an emergency fund or other source of funds while you wait for the situation to be resolved. 

2. Follow up with the bank

These investigations take a bit of time. You can expect it to take upwards of 21 days to complete. Most of the time, you’ll be seen as not liable for the funds and they’ll be returned to your account. However, you could be on the hook for the payment if any of the following are true:

  • You acted fraudulently
  • You shared your PIN or password
  • You waited an unreasonable amount of time to report the fraud or a lost card
  • You left your card in an ATM

If you’re found to be liable, you can always complain or appeal in writing. Filing a formal complaint in which you outline why the transaction was unauthorised can help you protect yourself. However, this is unnecessary in most cases since banks are generally willing to work with you. 

3. Monitor Your Credit

If you think you’ve been affected by credit card fraud, this is the time to check in on your credit rating. This is the first line of defence for ensuring nobody has stolen your information or opened any accounts in your name. 

It could be worth investing in greater cybersecurity measures, talking with loved ones about financial security, and reviewing any authorised account users. Identity theft is nothing to play around with, and it can cause serious damage to your credit and financial future. 

If you suspect your identity has been stolen beyond your card being used without your consent, you can get help from the government. The free, government-funded service iDcare is developed to help you respond and recover from a case of stolen identity.  

4. Report the Scam

You might be able to identify where the scam took place. If you were the victim of a local scammer, ATM skimmer, or online scam, take action. The service provider might not realise their security has been compromised, and you can protect others from facing the same fate. 

For example, if your identity was stolen from an ATM at a local business, reach out and let them know. They can take a closer look and protect others. Similarly, if your information was stolen online, report the website to its hosting service. If a fraudulent business is advertising on Facebook or another platform, report them.

How to Prevent Credit Card Fraud

The best way to prevent credit card fraud is to take action as early as possible to protect yourself. New technology is making bank information more secure, but you don’t have to put all of your trust in your financial institution. 

Here are important steps everyone should take to prevent credit card fraud:

  • Review your bank statements Get in the habit of always reviewing your credit card statements and bills for activity you don’t recognise. 
  • Shred important documents Invest in a shredder to destroy important documents instead of throwing them away where anyone might find them. 
  • Carry only what you need When you leave the house, don’t carry more cards than you need. If your wallet has all of your credit cards and bank cards, you risk a lot more if it’s lost or stolen. If you do misplace your wallet, report your cards as lost right away to freeze those accounts. 
  • Learn about phishing scams Phishing scams are when scammers pretend to be legitimate businesses as a way to get information from you. Learn how to recognize these when you stumble across them online. Remember, your service providers will never email, call, or text you asking for your password or other personal information.
  • Go paperless To avoid having too much information in print, go paperless to receive your bills and documents online. 
  • Sign up for fraud alerts Most credit card providers have fraud alerts you can enable on your phone or email. This is the best way to stay in-the-know right away. Money management apps do this as well. 
  • Update your PIN and password Get in the habit of changing your PIN and other important passwords regularly. 
  • Double authentication Many providers and services now offer double verification for login, usually having you enter a password and also confirm who you are with a phone text or code. This is much more secure than relying on a single password that can be compromised.
  • Secure cards Consider using newer credit cards and updating old ones. Newer cards are equipped with greater technology to protect your identity and information. Additionally, mobile payment options like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are a secure alternative to carrying physical cards. 

Take Action to Protect Yourself

When it comes to credit card fraud and theft, you need to stay vigilant. In this day and age, it’s easy to take your personal data security for granted. Passwords and PIN numbers give a false sense of security that everything is safe. In reality, scammers are smarter than ever. 

If you do suspect you’ve been affected by credit card fraud, take action immediately. Your bank has resources and tools available to help, and you likely won’t be on the hook for any fraudulent payments. That being said, time is of the essence. The sooner you respond, the more options you have. 

Having your information compromised is often a wake-up call. It’s a reminder that everyone needs to be mindful of how their information and cards are stored. If you need help checking in with your current bank statements, credit rating, and financial security, contact the experts at Debt Busters on 1300 368 322 today. We’re here to help.

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