BBB Cautions: What to Do If You Become a Victim of Credit Card Fraud

February 08, 2009

The Better Business Bureau warns consumers that even if their credit or debit card never leaves their sight, they could still become a victim of fraud or identity theft and need to be prepared to act quickly to minimize the damage.

According to the Identify Theft Resource Center’s 2008 breach report, there were 656 reported breaches of data at the end of 2008, reflecting an increase of 47% over 2007. 
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BBB offers this advice to follow if you should become a victim of ID theft:

Step One: Contact the Issuer.

By law, a consumer’s maximum liability is $50 per credit card once a loss or theft is reported. If the fraud involves a credit card number, but not the card itself, the consumer has no liability for unauthorized use. If an ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, however, consumers could lose everything if they don’t act quickly to alert the issuer.

Step Two: Contact the Authorities.

If a credit or debit card is stolen or if the consumer notices fraudulent charges on their account, they can file a report with the local police. Get a copy of the police report to confirm the nature of the fraudulent charges with the card issuer and credit reporting bureaus, and to file reports with the Federal Trade Commission online at

Step Three: Contact Credit Reporting Bureaus.

Have the three credit reporting bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- place a fraud alert on your account. Consumers can also ask to have an account frozen, but it may take several days to unfreeze accounts in the future.

Step Four: Stay Vigilant.

Victims of ID theft can receive copies of their credit report free-of-charge and should review reports with all three bureaus for any suspicious activity. To order your free credit reports by mail, you can visit or call 1-877-322-8228. Instant online credit reports will require a prepayment. This service is supported by the three major credit bureaus. Continue to keep an eye on credit card statements, bank accounts and credit reports for any suspicious activity.

Following is contact information for the three credit bureaus that monitor activity on consumer credit accounts if you need to place a fraud alert on your report:




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