Would you know if you’ve been the victim of credit card skimmer or fraud?

I was the victim of card fraud, you could be too…

One of the biggest factors in dealing with credit card skimmer or fraud is realising that you’ve been the victim of credit card fraud.

Every day thousands of people like me have their bank and credit card accounts violated, as 21st century technology allows criminals to get smarter and more devious all the time.

So if you think you’ve had your account tampered with or your card has been used without your permission what do you do next?

Recognise a fraud has taken place

Recognising that you’ve been the victim of credit card fraud is the first step. If you don’t realise someone else is using your credit card how can you report the fraud?

I always make a point of studying my credit card statements thoroughly as soon as they come through, making a mental note of all the transactions listed and highlighting ones that don’t spring to mind straight away or look suspicious. You don’t need to go overboard, just cast your eye over the amounts that have gone out and make sure you recognise what they were for.

Anything that you don’t recognise you should investigate thoroughly and double check.

Just the other day I was looking through one of my statements and noticed a transaction for some disposable contact lenses purchased in Durham. What alerted me to this item? Well one, I don’t wear contact lenses and two, I’ve never been to Durham. So this was a pretty good clue that my card details had been used by someone else.

What do you do next?

Before you go screaming fraud, you first need to ensure that the purchase wasn’t one which you authorised willingly or one that you made and forgot all about – for me with the contact lenses, definitely not the case.

If you’re pretty sure the transactions are fraudulent then you need to take action immediately.

After much brain wracking and convinced the transaction wasn’t mine, I decided to call my credit card company and report the alleged fraud.

I was asked to give them all the details of the transaction, the time and place it took place and the amount that was charged to my card.

They cancelled my card immediately and informed me that a replacement would be sent out straight away; with a new PIN to follow shortly after.

Then what happens

As for the money for the lenses I never ordered, I was told that the incident would be passed onto their fraud team and then a decision would be made regarding crediting my account for the lost funds.

I was also advised that if I wanted to pursue the issue I could fill out a police report; a decision I would have to make at a later date – but as soon as I reported the incident I knew that no further transactions could be made on that card.

The end result

Sure enough my account was credited with the money for my phantom purchase after a couple of weeks and the matter was never thought of again.

As for reporting the incident to the police, I chose not to. It was a minor inconvenience for me and I was refunded for my loss. The problem is though, another small incident that goes unreported means another small victory for the modern day fraudster and more victims in the future – another reason we should all check our credit card statements thoroughly.

Matthew Crist is a journalist, blogger and careful credit card user. He wrote this article in conjunction with Minnesota criminal law firm Rivers Law, who specialise in fraud.

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