Unauthorized Credit Card Charges: What Should You Do?

Unauthorized credit card transactions might be frightening and inconvenient, but you won't have to pay them if you discover and report them as quickly as possible. To discover illegal transactions, you must pay special attention to every transaction on your credit card statement, no matter how big or tiny. Rather than waiting for your monthly billing statement, you can identify unauthorized charges sooner by monitoring your transactions online throughout the month.

Detect Unauthorized Credit Card Charges Early

Unauthorized credit card charges are any changes made to your account that you did not authorize. Unauthorized charges are frequently the consequence of credit card theft, whether from a stolen card or compromised card information. Unauthorized charges might occur due to a clerical error or a computer malfunction. In either case, it's your job to track down and disclose these charges as soon as possible to avoid being held liable for charges you didn't create. Ensure the charges weren't made by a joint account holder or an authorized user on your account before reporting them to your credit card company. Because cardholders do not thoroughly monitor their credit card accounts, many illegal credit card charges go unreported for months. However, early discovery is critical when it comes to rectifying fraudulent charges. According to the Fair Credit Billing Act, unauthorized transactions and other credit card billing problems must be reported to your card issuer within 60 days after the date the statement containing the error was submitted. If too much time occurs between the time the charge is made and the time you report it, you may be held accountable. If an unlawful charge was made on February 15 and your statement was submitted on March 1, you have until April 29 to file a written challenge. If you register your dispute after 60 days, the credit card issuer is not legally obligated to resolve it amicably.

Reporting Unauthorized Credit Card Charges

Call your credit card issuer using the number on the back of your card if you see an illegal charge on your account. If you don't have your credit card and haven't saved a copy of the phone number, look up the number on a recent monthly statement or on the card issuer's website. Never give out personal information to someone who claims to be your credit card issuer over the phone or by email, no matter how authentic the contact or email appears to be. This is frequently a phishing scam used by crooks to obtain personal or credit card information. The fraud is frequently used to obtain access to your credit card's three-digit security number or billing zip code. Use a trustworthy phone number from your credit card, billing statement, or the credit card provider's legitimate website to contact your credit card issuer. Call your credit card issuer to report the fraudulent charges after you have the correct number. They'll usually close the account and reissue a new credit card with a new account number. No matter how small, any illegal charges should be reported to your credit card issuer. One sort of credit card fraud involves making a modest charge to your account, such as $1 or less, and then following up with a significantly larger charge. The little charge is usually merely a check to determine if the account is active, and the larger charge will be processed. Next, you should follow up with a dispute letter explaining the unlawful credit card charges to ensure that your rights are fully protected. Include the date and time of your call and the name of the customer care representative with whom you spoke. Some credit card companies ask you first to contact the business to rectify the illegal charge. By looking at your credit card statement, you can usually figure out who the merchant is. On the other hand, Thieves have been known to spoof merchant information, making it appear as if charges were made with a specific merchant when they weren't (There's a problem with some unauthorized iTunes charges that's been going on for a while.). In this scenario, you'll have to deal with your credit card company rather than the retailer.

Protect Your Rights

By law, you can be held liable for up to $50 in illegal transactions made before reporting a lost or stolen credit card. Still, many credit card companies have zero fraud liability policies that eliminate your obligation for fraudulent purchases. Furthermore, under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you will never be held accountable for unauthorized charges made while your card is in your possession. In other words, as long as you have physical possession of your credit card, you will not be held accountable if unlawful charges were made using your credit card account information rather than your credit card. The credit card company will usually delete an unauthorized charge from your account when you challenge it. You are not responsible for paying the disputed portion of your balance in the meantime. On that outstanding debt, the card issuer can't charge any fees or interest unless it's later determined that you authorized the charge.

Key Takeaways

  • To handle unauthorized charges on your account, follow these steps:
  • Regularly check your account to catch any illegal transactions as soon as possible.
  • Unauthorized charges should be reported as quickly as possible, either to the retailer or your credit card provider.
  • To guarantee that your rights are entirely protected, follow up the dispute with a letter to your credit card issuer.
  • To avoid future illegal charges, take steps to protect your credit card information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

After speaking with my credit card company about a fraudulent charge, what should I do?

Consider speaking with the merchant/seller involved with the charge after filing a dispute with your credit card issuer. While the name could be false, you may be able to contact them directly to get a refund. It's also good to send a letter to the employer outlining everything you talked about, who you spoke with, and any other pertinent information.

How can I keep my credit card from being stolen when shopping online?

Using a service like PayPal, checking your bills frequently, reporting any suspicious activity, and never giving out any bank account information in person or over the phone can help keep your credit card safe online. Only give your credit card number to a reliable website when shopping online.

What other safeguards do credit card issuers have to protect me from fraud?

Most credit card issuers have fraud triggers that alert you if your account has been compromised. Purchases made in a different location, changes in spending patterns, or cash withdrawals are common triggers. Maintain your contact information to ensure that you receive any notifications that may enable you to respond immediately to potential credit card fraud.

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