Your first reaction when you think someone has committed credit fraud against you might be to scream. Or cry, yell, curse, or do a whole list of things that would be a perfectly reasonable reaction to such a frustrating event.
This, however, isn’t actually productive in terms of getting your life back to normal. It’s important to keep your emotions in check if you think you’re a victim of credit fraud. Here are the things you should do instead.
Contact Your Credit Card Company
This is no doubt the first step you’ll need to take when you think someone has commandeered your credit card information. You’ll want to freeze the line of credit and get new cards as soon as possible. It’s likely your credit card company has some kind of fraud protection. If not, it’s wise to switch to a card that offers this. The credit card provider will then investigate the purchases and refund your money if they find you were defrauded.
It’s essential you contact creditors immediately when you notice the fraudulent charges, as there’s often a limit on how long you can take and still receive reimbursement.
Change Your Passwords
Once you’ve contacted the credit card company, it’s time to start changing your passwords. It’s wise to just go ahead and reassign passwords and PINs to all your financial accounts. This will lower the likelihood that the person who stole your information is able to defraud you again.
Contact the Credit Reporting Agencies
Your credit report can be a great resource when someone has committed credit fraud against you. Other than your credit card statement, this is typically the most likely place you’ll be able to identify fraudulent activity.
You’ll also want to put a fraud alert on your account so the credit agencies have a record that your credit was defrauded. It’s also important you let the credit reporting agencies know about the fraud so there’s no negative impact on your credit score.
If you’re unable to get the fraudulent charges settled with the credit card company, it’s possible you could end up having to pay them. Depending on the situation, this means you could get stuck with hundreds or thousands of dollars in expenses that weren’t your fault.
You may want to consider a debt relief option if you find yourself in this situation. You can see from Freedom Debt Relief reviews that they have a record of helping people with all kinds of credit trouble. They’ve assisted many people in settling debt, regardless of the cause.
Put a Security Freeze on Your Credit
A security freeze is one of the best ways to ensure the safety of your credit if you’re worried about identity or credit theft. A new law was enacted after the massive Equifax data breach that now allows consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit, free of charge. This essentially makes it impossible for you or anyone else to open new lines of credit or access your credit in any way as long as the freeze is on your account. This can be a bit of a hassle if you’re wanting to open a new card or take out a loan. However, it can also save a lot of headaches you might otherwise have to deal with if your credit was hacked.
Keep an Eye on Things
It’s important to continue monitoring your credit after fraud has been committed against you. Once it has happened that one time, it should show you the inherent vulnerability of credit. You’ll want to immediately address any further fraudulent activity if you find it.
No one wants to deal with the aftermath of credit fraud. But this is something that can happen to anyone, especially after the Equifax data breach that released about 145 million Americans’ information. These leaks are still happening and it’s essential that you know how to protect yourself.