As technology is updated and refined, so are the methods that hackers use to try to access your personal, financial information to steal your identity. Currently, identity theft is at an all-time high with over 16.7 million victims in 2017, according to a 2018 report conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research. In a separate report by the FTC Sentinel, over 150,000 new credit card account fraud cases were reported in 2017, marking a 3% growth from the previous year. Currently, credit card fraud is one of the most reported forms of identity theft in the US. On average, individuals will discover that they are victims of credit card fraud by receiving a statement in the mail for the newly opened card, finding an unauthorized account on their credit report, or noticing a drop in their credit score due to high, unpaid balances. While this discovery can be quite jarring, it’s essential that you take immediate action.
Preventing Further Fraud
If you find out that you are a victim of credit card fraud–or any other form of fraud–it’s so important to take the proper precautions to prevent further methods of fraud. Here’s what you can do:
- Report the incident to the creditor: In the event of a fraudulent account, it’s incredibly important to report the incident to the creditor immediately. It’s also advised that you keep detailed records of your conversations with the creditors for future reference. If your conversation is over the phone, try to take diligent notes including the number you called, the date and time, the person you spoke to, etc. If the creditors get back to you and state that you aren’t liable for the charges made on the fraudulent account, be sure to get that statement in writing.
- Report it to local law enforcement: Far too often, individuals who are faced with fraudulent accounts forget to notify local law enforcement of the issue. Simply calling your creditor is not enough. Be sure to file a police report in order to prove a crime was committed against you.
- Consider a Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze: Once you have notified the police and your creditors, you may want to consider placing a credit freeze on your account or enacting a fraud alert. A fraud alert will stay on your credit report for 90 days and will notify any lenders that you might have been a victim of credit card or identity theft. You can also renew this alert once the initial 90 days are up. The other option, a credit freeze, will prevent lenders from accessing your credit report. In order to do so, you must reach out to each individual credit agency and notify them of your current situation. Keep in mind, a credit freeze will also prevent you from gaining credit.
- Always Review Your Credit Reports: After experiencing an incident of credit card fraud, it’s very important to monitor your credit reports at all times. Your reports will help you determine if someone else is using your information and you can also make sure that your records match up to the specific accounts you opened yourself.
If you believe that you may be a victim of credit card and identity theft, don’t delay. The sooner you are able to catch and address the fraudulent activity, the less damage it will do to your overall financial health.
This post was written by Loan Lawyers. Loan Lawyers is a team of experienced and aggressive consumer rights litigation and trial attorneys in South Florida helping clients throughout the state of Florida.