Few things can compare to the helplessness and personal invasion of privacy that is the result of being a victim of credit card fraud. Where privacy and personal security is so closely guarded by many of us, to become a victim can truly be both financially and emotionally devastating. Although it may be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel there are specific steps that you can take to minimize and even eliminate the negative repercussions that being a victim of fraud can create.
The first step in dealing with credit card fraud should actually take place as a preventative measure. In order to save yourself time and frustration if you are the unfortunate victim of credit card fraud, make sure that you keep well-organized records of your credit card history and account information. You should also make a photocopy of both sides of each of your credit cards so that you have the numbers to call to cancel the card if you notice charges on it that you did not make. Most credit card cancellation numbers and customers service numbers are printed on the back of the cards so if you are a victim of credit card fraud while shopping online you may not need the photocopies but having them as well as accurate account history information is always wise.
Report the fraud to the issuer of the card
Once you realize that your card has been used fraudulently or charges appear that you did not consent to make, immediately call the issuer of the card to report the fraud. Most companies have toll-free and twenty-four hour lines dedicated to just such emergencies. Once the card issuer has been notified of the fraud they can deny all charges from that point on. This means that by law, once you report the theft, you have no further responsibility for fraudulent charges. Under federal law set forth by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in the even that your credit card is used fraudulently, your maximum liability for those fraudulent charges made with your card is to be no more than $50 per card.
Note: Know also that you may be asked to sign a statement under oath stating that you did not make the purchases that you have claimed as fraudulent and there are serious consequences for claiming that charges were fraudulent when it was in fact the card owner who is responsible for payment.
Make corrections with credit bureaus
After you have contacted the issues of your credit card, you also need to watch to make sure that fraudulent activities or accounts do not have a negative effect on your credit score. The credit bureaus are required to make corrections to incorrect statements on your credit report (such as the failure to provide payment for fraudulent products or the mistreatment of an account fraudulently opened under your name). Sometimes the repercussions that fraud can have can be most devastating if you neglect to take care of their reflection on your credit report. Such would be the case if you went to make a larger purchase and the credit score that was pulled was full of errors that would render you unable to get the loan that you may have been counting on.
Help to identify and eliminate fraudulent business practices
The FTC is dedicated to working with the consumer to prevent fraud. You can help in this fight by filing an official complaint online at the FTC or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. The FTC enters these complaints into a database known as the Consumer Sentinel. The Consumer Sentinel is an online database that is available to law enforcement agencies.