If Youve Been Scammed
If you think you may be a victim of a fraud or scam, there are some key steps you should take immediately to reduce your risk of losing more money, protect your personal information and avoid being scammed again.
- stop all communication with the fraudster or scammer
- report the scam or fraud to your local police, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and any regulatory bodies
- notify financial institutions and other companies where you have an account that may have been affected
- avoid making any major financial decisions until you feel youve taken action to secure your accounts
- put an alert on your credit report by contacting a consumer reporting agency, such as Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada
- gather all records you have of the fraud or scam, such as:
- correspondence with the scammer
- financial statements
- contact information the scammer used to contact you
- websites and social media accounts used for the scam
- any papers, marketing material or ads used for the scam
Contact The Merchant First
Before contacting your credit card company, seek to resolve the issue by speaking with the merchant. Record the name of the person you speak with, as well as the date of the phone call. If the person on the line cannot help, ask to speak with a manager. If a merchant does not provide a solution, move on to your next step.
Financial Service Scams Including Mortgages And Insurance
Almost all financial services services that deal with shares, credit, insurance, mortgages and soon on should be authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
If you are targeted by an organisation trying to give you these kind of services, you can report them to the FCA for investigation.
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Wait For Them To Investigate Your Dispute
If you sent a written letter rather than calling, the company should mail you a written confirmation that they received your notice within 30 days. That notice means your credit card company is investigating your claim and could take up to 90 days or two billing cycles to complete the process.
For smaller disputes, your credit card company may simply refund the charge, rather than conduct an investigation. Usually these refunds can be completed immediately.
What To Do Next
Keep copies of all reports you file, both with the police and with the FTC, as they may be needed again to combat new or reappearing fraudulent charges. You may want to provide copies to the credit reporting bureaus as part of your fraud alert file.
If you’ve experienced fraud, your first step is to protect your finances by putting a fraud alert on your credit report and freezing or closing your bank accounts and credit cards. You can freeze your account by contacting your bank. To place a fraud alert on your credit report, contact one of the three credit reporting companies â Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. After you’ve secured your accounts and credit, report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission, then file a police report.
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S To Take If You Are A Victim Of Credit Card Fraud
Through April 20, 2022, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.
In this article:
If you’ve fallen victim to credit card fraud, you’re far from alone. There were nearly 400,000 reports of credit card fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year, a number that grew 44% from 2019 to 2020. The key to minimizing the damage of this insidious crime is to detect it early and act immediately. Adopting smart habits and taking advantage of resources from Experian and others can help. The right moves can even help you avoid becoming a victim altogether.
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from credit card fraud and recover as quickly as possible if it does happen.
S To Take If Youve Lost Your Credit Card
If you lose your credit card, notify your bank immediately. Upon notification, the bank should cancel your lost credit card and reissue a new one.
Other things you can do:
- regularly monitor your credit card statements for any transactions that you didn’t make
- carry your cards in a safe place
- keep a list of your bank and credit card numbers in a safe place at home for reference purposes
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Set Up Virtual Account Numbers
If your card issuer offers them, request a virtual credit card, which is good for a certain amount of time or for a particular merchant. That way if the number is compromised, the potential damage is minimized.
If you are shopping in person, consider using a mobile wallet. If you put your card information on your mobile device, you can use that to make payments. An encryption system substitutes a one-time digital token for your card information.
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What To Do If Credit Card Theft Happens To You
In the event that your credit card is stolen in the United States, federal law limits the liability of cardholders to $50, regardless of the amount charged on the card by the unauthorized user. In today’s world of electronic fraud, if just the credit card account number itself is stolen and the theft is reported before any charges are made, federal law guarantees that the cardholder has a zero liability to the issuer. Numerous credit card companies have also adopted a zero liability policy, which means the consumer is not held responsible for any fraudulent charges at all. The terms and conditions of your cardholder agreement often spell out the details.
As a cardholder, you should notify the issuer immediately if you notice that your credit card is missing or stolen. This early notification will give the issuer time to help you with the following:
You should also check with the three major and obtain a copy of your credit report to be sure that nothing else has been accessed fraudulently.
Victim Of Credit Card Fraud
After these three steps, youll need to see if there are any other signs of fraud.
This means going through your bank and credit card statements for the last few months, as well as getting a copy of your credit file. This will help you to see if anyone has used your identity to apply for credit cards or loans without you knowing.
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*A phishing scam is an attempt to deceive you into giving sensitive information to someone posing as an individual or company that you know .
Be Wary Of Credit Card Protection Offers
This type of insurance is unnecessary because of the federal limits in place. Often times, your bank or credit card company will have identity protection or fraud protection services already in place just by being a customer. Third-party companies that offer credit and identity theft insurance can be expensive and often simply follow the same steps that you would in reporting unauthorized spending on your card.
But beware: some scam artists try to sell $200-300 credit card insurance by falsely claiming that cardholders face significant financial risk if their cards are misused.
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What To Do If You Are A Victim Of Fraud Or Identity Theft
If you believe you are a victim of fraud, the FTC is the main agency that collects scam reports. You can file a report online at or by phone at 1-877-382-4357. If you think your identity has been stolen, you can report it at and get a recovery plan.
Also contact one of the major nationwide credit reporting companies Experian, Equifax and Transunion and place a fraud alert in your credit report. You can find more tips to protect yourself at the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.consumerfinance.gov and the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.
CNBC’s Stephanie Dhue contributed to this report.
Freeze Your Credit Reports
Protecting your current credit accounts from fraud is an important stepbut what if identity thieves try to take out new lines of credit under your name? The best way to protect yourself from this kind of credit card fraud is by freezing your credit reports.
When your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports are frozen, anyone who tries to open a credit card or apply for a loan under your name will be declined. This prevents identity thieves from taking out credit cards or loans under your name, but it also prevents you from opening new lines of creditso if you want to apply for a new credit card, take out a personal loan or shop for a mortgage, youll need to thaw your credit freeze first.
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Vigorously Monitor Your Reports
A great way to monitor activity on your accounts is to order your credit reports for each credit card reporting company. In fact, federal law states you are allowed one free credit report per year, but if your card has ever been stolen, you may be able to get your reports for free more frequently. Some experts recommend ordering one report every four months, in essence staggering requests via each of the main companies. This is a great way to keep a lookout for fraud. A weekly or monthly check-in of credit activity via your card’s main website can also provide insight into any potential fraudulent activity.
How Card Issuers Investigate Fraudulent Charges
Once a suspected fraud transaction is noticed, your credit card issuer may cancel your card, send you a replacement and start a fraud investigation. It may also refund the amount back to your account. Even if it doesn’t immediately issue a refund, you’re not responsible for disputed amounts during the investigation.
A credit card fraud investigation could take up to 90 days, during which time the credit card issuer may contact the merchant that charged your card to get more details about the transaction. The card issuer may request copies of a police report or receipts to compare signatures if they’re available.
Card issuers and merchants may also look for “friendly fraud,” which is when a cardholder makes a purchase and then disputes it as fraudeven though it wasn’t.
If fraud has occurred, the outcome of the investigation will also help the merchant and credit card issuer settle who is responsible for covering the fraudulent purchase . Either way, you won’t pay anything if your card’s payment network provides $0 fraud liability.
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How To Prevent Credit Card Fraud
If your card is stolen or if you know that a breach has happened at a company or store you use, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. In fact, these are all things you should be doing on a regular basis anyway they can help protect you even before youre aware your information has been stolen.
To prevent credit card fraud, you should:
- Closely monitor your transactions. Whether you get online or paper statements, its important that you regularly check them to make sure each transaction was correct and authorized by you.
- Check your credit report. Many of us already do this to see what our is, but regularly checking your credit report will keep you aware of any new accounts that are opened in your name. This can protect you from identity theft.
- Only carry the cards you need. If youre like me and have several credit cards, youre likely not using all of them on a regular basis. Keep the ones you arent using in a safe place at home to limit your risk of losing or having every one of your cards stolen.
- Only shop online at reputable websites. Youll want to know a website has security systems in place to protect their customers. Id also avoid online purchases if a website looks scammy or doesnt have https at the beginning of the URL.
Update Mobile Wallets And Online Accounts
When you report credit card fraud, your credit card issuer is likely to cancel your current credit card and send you a new card with a new credit card number. After your new credit card arrives, take the time to update your mobile wallets and online accountsespecially if you have automatic payments set up. That way, you wont accidentally fall behind on a subscription or bill. If you used your old credit card to make purchases on sites like Amazon, make sure you update those payment methods as well.
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Report Online Shopping Scams And Payment Fraud
It can sometimes be difficult to work out if youve been the victim of a scam or not. But, if something goes wrong with an online purchase, here are the steps to take:
If youve been sent a defective item, or the wrong product, get in touch with the online seller you got it from. If you dont hear back, or youre not happy with their response, you should contact your card provider, for example VISA or Mastercard.
If you dont remember making a purchase and think it could be someone using your card for fraud, let your bank know straight away. They can then block the card so no more payments can go through. Youll normally get your money refunded back from your card company if your card details are used online without your permission for fraud. If you think youve been targeted by a scam you can also report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use Action Fraud’s online reporting tool.
How To Spot Signs Of Credit Card Fraud
Whether you suspect youâre a victim of credit card fraud or youâd like to prevent it, here are some common signs to look out for:
- Transactions on your monthly account statements that you donât recognize.
- Blocked access to your account.
- Changes to your credit report you didnât authorize, like new accounts or addresses that arenât yours.
- Unexpected calls from creditors or collection agencies.
A monitoring tool can help you stay on top of your personal information. is a free service that gives you the ability to detect suspicious activity.
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How Can Credit Card Fraud Impact My Credit
When credit card fraud goes undetected, thieves have a chance to run up charges in your namewhich they never intend to pay. This can be damaging to your credit profile. In most cases, you’ll be able to clear up these matters by proving you didn’t authorize the charges. In the meantime, however, anyone checking your credit may see fraudulent credit card accounts, missed payments or increased balances that are appearing as a result of fraud. The presence of these fraudulent items could paint a less-than-flattering picture of your credit habits. Card fraud can put negative marks on your credit reports, including:
- Late payments: If a fraudster opens a credit card account in your name and never pays a bill, late payments could be reported to the credit bureaus in your name and your credit scores could suffer. Payment history, the most important factor in credit scores, accounting for 35% of your FICO® Score.
- High credit utilization: If a fraudulent credit card, or one of your own cards, is being used to run up bogus charges, your the percentage of your borrowing limit represented by your outstanding balancescould skyrocket. Credit utilization is nearly as important as payment history in determining your credit scores, and a high utilization could cause your credit scores to suffer.