What To Do If You Spot An Unauthorized Charge

If you carefully review your credit card transactions and notice a purchase that you have not made, it is possible that your account has been subjected to unauthorized access or fraudulent activity.

When you identify an unapproved charge on either your credit or debit card, it is crucial to take immediate action. Acting promptly can ensure that you are not held responsible for the unauthorized charges and can significantly alleviate any financial burdens or concerns you may have.

By acting swiftly, you can protect your financial well-being and minimize the potential stress associated with such incidents.

Here are 7 things to do if you spot an unauthorized charge.

1. Report it to your bank

Under federal law, your liability for unauthorized credit card activity is limited to a maximum of $50. However, it is crucial not to delay in taking action, even if you won’t be held accountable for most unauthorized charges.

The moment you notice an unauthorized charge on your credit card, it is essential to immediately contact your card provider. It is crucial to prevent the individual who obtained your card from further using it for fraudulent purposes.

Once you report the loss or fraudulent use of your credit card, you cannot be held responsible for any subsequent transactions that occur afterwards.

If you come across an unauthorized charge on your debit card, it becomes even more critical to promptly report the activity. Debit card protections are generally not as comprehensive as those provided for credit cards, making swift action all the more important.

2. File a police report

It is highly unlikely that you will have a significant opportunity to apprehend the individual who used your card, particularly if they are located far away. Nevertheless, your bank or credit card provider may still require you to file a police report.

By filing a police report, you establish a formal and traceable record of the incident. Even though the chances of directly catching the perpetrator may be slim, having this official documentation can prove invaluable if the fraud escalates into a larger-scale situation beyond your initial expectations.

Should the fraudulent activity expand or have more serious consequences, you will be grateful that you took the step of filing a report with the police. It adds an extra layer of legitimacy to your case and can aid in any potential investigations or legal proceedings that may arise in the future.

Therefore, it is wise to comply with the requirements of your bank or credit card provider and make the effort to file a police report to protect yourself and your financial interests.

3. Dispute the charge

Once you inform your card company about the unauthorized charge on your account, it is important to inquire whether you will need to initiate a formal dispute regarding the charge. While in many instances, simply reporting the incident over the phone may be sufficient, there are situations where additional steps might be necessary.

At a certain stage, you may be requested to provide a written statement disputing the unauthorized charge. It is crucial to carefully adhere to the card company’s guidelines and instructions throughout the entire process of dealing with unauthorized charges.

Following their specific procedures will help ensure that your dispute is handled efficiently and effectively.

Remember to stay vigilant and attentive to any requirements or documentation requested by your card company. By following their guidelines and promptly providing any necessary statements, you can actively participate in resolving the issue and protecting your rights as a cardholder.

4. Contact the vendor

It is important to proactively reach out to the vendor responsible for the unauthorized charge and provide them with details about the incident involving your card.

Whether the vendor conducts their business online or operates from a physical store, taking the initiative to communicate with them is crucial. You should inform the vendor that your card was fraudulently used in connection with their business.

By contacting the vendor directly, you not only raise awareness about the fraudulent activity but also give them an opportunity to investigate the matter and take appropriate actions on their end.

This proactive approach helps protect other potential customers from falling victim to fraudulent activities and assists in maintaining the integrity and security of their business operations.

5. Open a new bank account or credit card

In the case of unauthorized activity, your financial institution will probably deactivate the compromised card and provide you with a replacement while keeping your account open.

However, if the fraudulent activity was significant, it could have a more substantial impact on your account. The credit card company or bank may decide to take more drastic measures and close down your account entirely.

Whether you receive a new card or a completely new account, it is crucial to proactively contact any merchants or service providers with whom you have set up automatic bill payments.

Inform them about the changes in your card number or account details to ensure uninterrupted billing and avoid any potential disruptions or missed payments.

6. Submit a complaint

After notifying your credit card company or bank about the unauthorized activity, it is expected that they will respond promptly and take appropriate actions.

In the case of debit card issuers, they should conduct an investigation into your claims and take necessary measures within a timeframe of up to two weeks. However, when dealing with credit card companies, the resolution process may take slightly longer.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with the progress or response from your card company or bank, you have the option to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This regulatory agency can assist you in addressing any unresolved issues or concerns regarding the handling of your unauthorized charges.

Filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau serves as a means to escalate the matter and seek further assistance in ensuring a satisfactory resolution. It provides you with an avenue to voice your concerns and receive guidance on how to navigate the situation effectively.

7. Keep on monitoring your bank account

Unauthorized charge is usually an isolated incident. However, it is wise to exercise caution by consistently monitoring the account associated with the unauthorized activity, as well as all your other accounts.

There is a possibility that the perpetrator gained access to more of your personal information and may attempt to engage in malicious activities using additional accounts.

Therefore, it is crucial to remain vigilant and carefully observe all of your bank accounts, promptly identifying and reporting any suspicious or questionable transactions.

Continuously monitoring your accounts serves as a proactive measure to protect your financial security. By staying alert and promptly flagging any unusual activity, you can take swift action to mitigate potential risks and prevent further unauthorized access or fraudulent transactions.

Remember, maintaining a watchful eye over all your accounts is an essential step in safeguarding your financial well-being.

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