Advertiser Disclosure

Catch Credit Card Theft Fast With Vigilance

Jan. 24, 2015
Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

With the possibility of identity theft or company hacks an ever-increasing threat, credit card theft can happen virtually at any time or in any place. In 2014, the Identity Theft Resource Center noted that the number of reported data breaches, including for credit cards, increased by 27.5% from 2013. If you find your card information has been stolen online or off, take the following steps to protect yourself:

1. Check your recent transaction history

One of the perks of online banking is receiving instant reports of your transactions, so if you have this feature, sign into your account and check for any suspicious or unexplained charges. If this isn’t an option, call your issuer or bank and ask for recent transactions on your card. Keep a list of each charge so that you can give the details to your bank. Take note of each fraudulent charge amount, the date and the location, if possible.

2. Call your credit card issuer

Look up your credit card issuer’s hot line for fraudulent or stolen cards. For most major banks, this number tends to be in the customer service or security section on their websites. Or just Google “stolen card” with your card issuer’s name.

3. Cancel the card

Once you’re on the phone with your issuer, tell the representative that your card information was stolen and the time frame in which it occurred as best as you can. List each fraudulent transaction. Lastly, ask them to cancel the card and send you a replacement. The issuer will take care of removing the charges you didn’t make and send you a new card.

4. Monitor your accounts

Even after you take care of the theft, check your accounts regularly to detect another hack quickly. In addition, fraud alerts can go off even accidentally. If you plan to take any trips abroad, notify your issuer before you go.

» MORE: How to Dispute Fraudulent Credit Card Charges

Fraud protection

If your credit card is stolen, you have limited responsibility for the fraudulent charges. Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act, the maximum you can be charged for any unauthorized charges is $50. If you caught the theft before the charges processed, you don’t have to pay anything. Even if there are charges, though, most big credit card issuers protect you under a zero liability policy for fraud so you won’t be charged. It’s important to call as soon as you discover any unauthorized charges on your card, though. The sooner you can clear up the issue, the faster you can recover and move on.

Image via iStock.