If you have a credit card, one of your biggest fears is probably that your card might be stolen. However, since many of us now make purchases online, there are now more ways for credit card thieves to gain access to your personal info. If your credit card information has been stolen or compromised, there are a few ways you can reduce your chances of suffering a devastating financial loss. Here are some tips about what you should do as soon as you believe your credit card info is at risk.
Call and Report Your Card Stolen
This should be the absolute first thing you do when you think your credit card has been compromised. Immediately call your credit card company, and report that your card information may have been stolen. This way, you can avoid any future fraudulent charges that may be posted to your account. Most companies will immediately deactivate your card, and may even stop any pending charges that have been posted since the time when you believe your information became compromised.
Place a “Fraud Alert” on Your Credit Report
Just in case, it’s always best to place a “fraud alert” on your credit report if you think your credit card information may have been compromised. Despite what you might think, cancelling your credit cards doesn’t ensure that a thief won’t be able to make fraudulent charges in your name. They may have gained access to other personal data through your credit card, which means your identity could be at risk. A fraud alert will mean that no new accounts can be opened in your name until the alert is removed from your account. To do this, you’ll need to contact all three credit bureaus individually.
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 (www.transunion.com)
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 (www.equifax.com)
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742 (www.experian.com)
Get A Copy of Your Credit Report
You’re entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus once per year. In some cases, you may also be able to gain an additional free report after activating a fraud alert. It’s best to have documented proof of your credit report before any potentially fraudulent charges or accounts are opened in your name. Print out a physical copy of your credit report, and file it for future reference.
File An Identity Theft Report
If you want to be completely sure that your personal info will remain safe, you might want to consider filing a full identity theft report. These reports are usually in two parts, which may be time-consuming to complete. The first part of the report should be filed with your local or state authorities, such as the police. The second part of the report will be filed with a consumer reporting company, and will depend on your situation. Be sure to have detailed information available when filing your report. This should include the date that your information was most likely stolen, as well as information on any fraudulent charges or accounts that have been opened since the alleged theft. You might also have to provide documented evidence of the theft, if you can.