With loads of online shopping, gift and charitable giving taking place, the holiday season is prime time for scammers posing as legit organizations and fraudsters focused on tripping up unwary or distracted shoppers. The criminals get trickier each year, so it can happen to the best of us. Here’s your step-by-step guide of what to do if you are a victim of fraud, during the holidays or any time of year.
1. Where to Report Fraud First
As soon as you discover you’re a victim of fraud, your first call should be to your credit card issuer. If you have a USECU Mastercard® that’s us. By calling us immediately, we can cancel your card so it can’t be used again by the fraudster. We can also quickly send you a new card with a new number so you can get back to your holiday shopping right away. And, we can walk you through the steps of filing a dispute over the fraudulent charges, so you won’t be liable for them.
2. Notify the Three Major Credit Bureaus
It’s also a good idea to let the three major credit reporting bureaus – Experian®, TransUnion® and Equifax® – know about the fraud. Depending on the situation, you may want the bureaus to put a security freeze on your credit file to prevent any new accounts being opened in your name. Just remember to lift the freeze when you’re ready to apply for any new credit accounts.
3. Check All Your Accounts and Change Your Passwords
If your credit card is compromised, especially if it resulted from a data security breach at a retailer, it’s very possible that login credentials and/or passwords associated with your accounts were also stolen. Be sure to check all of your financial accounts for other possible fraud and update your passwords.
Since it’s risky to use the same password for different accounts, consider using a password manager that will store and help you create individual, tough passwords for each account. This option means you’ll only have to remember a single, master password.
4. Change Any Auto-Payments to Your New Card
Once the compromised credit card is canceled, no additional charges will be authorized, so be sure to log in to any accounts with recurring charges (such as streaming services and other subscriptions) and update them and any mobile wallets you use with your new card information.
5. Carefully Monitor Your Accounts
Fraudulent charges could continue to show up for some time after the initial fraud, so it’s important to continue carefully monitoring your accounts for at least a few months. You might also want to set up some special alerts in online banking or the mobile app to let you know, for example, about any charges to your account or charges exceeding a specific dollar amount.
While it’s no fun being a victim of fraud, if you act quickly and follow these tips at the first sign of fraud, you’ll be back to enjoying your holiday fun in no time!
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Experian is a trademark of Experian. TRANSUNION is a trademark of Trans Union LLC. EQUIFAX is a trademark of Equifax Inc.