Has your credit card number been stolen? According to a 2018 WalletHub survey, New Jersey and New York lead the Northeast region in identity theft and fraud cases, including theft of credit card numbers.
We’ve compiled steps that you can take to deal with your credit card number stolen situation and to get your credit back on track.
Signs of a stolen credit card number
But, first, how do you know your credit card number has been stolen? Here are some of the signs:
- Unusual card history.
- Repeated small purchases.
- An unfamiliar account on your credit report.
- Your bank calls about unusual purchases you’re unaware of.
What to do immediately
Contact your card issuer
If you notice your credit card number stolen or compromised, you should call your card issuer immediately. Your card issuer will place a block on the number, so all transactions with that number will be denied. Then, you will be sent a new credit card.
If you contact your card issuer in a timely manner, you won’t be held responsible for any fraudulent charges.
When you receive your replacement card, be sure to update your account number on all accounts where you have your credit card number saved.
File a fraud alert and get credit reports
To file a free fraud alert on your credit report and make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name, contact one of the three credit bureaus:
The company you contact should inform the other two about your credit card number stolen situation. To confirm that a fraud alert has been placed, you’ll receive a letter from all three credit bureaus.
Also, be sure to review your reports and make note of any unrecognizable transactions or accounts. AAA members who enroll in ProtectMyID identity theft protection receive a free Experian credit report.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Call 1-877-438-4338 or visit the FTC website to report your credit card number stolen case. Be sure to include as many details of your case as possible so that your report and recovery plan will be accurate and relevant.
It’s also a good idea to print and save your Identity Theft Report (if you don’t create an account on the website) as this report guarantees you certain rights pertaining to fraudulent charges.
You can also file with the police department, if desired. Bring the following with you:
- A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report.
- A government-issued ID with a photo.
- Proof of address, such as a utilities bill.
- Proof of theft.
What to Do Next
Track your credit reports and bank accounts
Working with the FTC, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your credit reports and bank accounts so that you can deal with any fraudulent charges as they appear. If the damage is particularly bad, you also have the option to place an extended fraud alert or a credit freeze on your accounts.
Extended fraud alert vs. credit freeze
So, what is the difference between an extended fraud alert and a credit freeze? An extended fraud alert requires the removal of your name from pre-screened lists for up to seven years. Each of the major credit-reporting companies will send you two free credit reports in the first twelve months after you get an extended fraud alert.
You can also file an extended fraud alert with any of the three credit-reporting companies, but you need to have a completed FTC Identity Theft Report first.
Requesting a credit freeze is a more drastic step, and you might have to pay a fee to place, lift and remove it. The credit freeze blocks anyone from looking at your credit report without your approval and makes it difficult to open accounts, even legitimate ones.
You have to request one credit freeze from each credit-reporting company who will then give you a password or PIN to cancel the freeze at any time. This protection lasts until you lift or remove it.
Sign up for a fraud monitoring service
You’ll want to take extra care of your credit information in the wake of your credit card number stolen situation. If you sign up for a credit monitoring service, you’ll be able to track credit reports and be immediately informed of any suspicious activity.
One identity and credit monitoring service AAA members can take advantage of is Experian’s ProtectMyID Essential Coverage. The Essential Coverage is free of charge with no trial period, and members also have the option to upgrade to Deluxe or Platinum.
Contact the business where the fraud occurred
Call the fraud department of each business to explain your credit card number stolen situation. Ask them to close or freeze the accounts so no new charges can be added. Also request a letter which confirms that the fraudulent account doesn’t belong to you, you’re not liable for it and it is no longer on your credit report.
Also, be sure to change all logins, passwords and PINs for each account and set them up so that you have to insert your credit card information manually. Keep this information in a safe place.
Having your credit card number stolen can be a huge headache if not scary. With these tips, you can be assured that you’ll be taking the right steps to recover.
What are some tips you have for people who have recently experienced credit card theft? Let us know in the comments!
Learn more about how Experian’s ProtectMyID Essential can give you the peace of mind you’re looking for.