Credit fraud isn’t something you ever want to deal with, but unfortunately, some of us will fall victim. Whether it’s a lost or stolen credit card or a stolen identity, knowing what steps you should take to straighten out the problem can make all the difference. Here’s a quick checklist that can help.
Act quickly and contact your credit card company
First things first: If your card has a lock feature, immediately lock your card after loss or suspicious activity. Then, contact your credit card company to inform them of your situation—you can identify which charges appear to be fraudulent, and they’ll take the appropriate steps to investigate the situation.
Look into credit fraud alerts
If you’ve been the victim of fraud and are concerned about the security of your accounts, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report. Not sure what they are? Well, these alerts are placed on your credit report to notify potential credit issuers that they must verify your identification before extending credit in your name.footnote1 This protects you in case someone is using your information without your authorization.
Start the credit fraud alert process
Start by contacting one of the 3 major credit bureaus—TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian®. The bureau you choose is required to contact the others to let them know you’ve placed an alert.footnote2
Choose the type of alert you want
Initial fraud alert—Lasts for at least 90 days and helps people who are concerned about becoming a fraud victim
Extended fraud alert—Can last 7 years and is typically placed by those who are victims of identity theft
Active military alert—Lasts 1 year to cover military personnel who are serving overseas and want to minimize their risk
Keep records of the calls you make and the alerts you place. For added protection, be sure to file a police report if you’re a victim of fraud and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.footnote3
Removing a credit fraud alert
When the time comes to remove your credit fraud alert, you can either wait until it expires or you can submit a request to get it removed. Contact the credit bureau you set your alert with to find out what steps you need to take in order to remove your credit fraud alert before it expires.
Credit fraud doesn’t have to feel like an uphill battle. By arming yourself with the right information, you’ll know how to respond to suspected fraud and how to protect yourself against fraud in the future.