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Suspicious activity on your account? Do this next.

March 13, 2017

Your phone rings, and your bank is calling to report suspicious account activity. You anxiously pull up your statements on your bank app, only to find unauthorized charges. Someone has stolen your card and is spending your money. You feel helpless and panicked. What should you do?

Check all of your accounts.

If one account has been compromised, there is a chance your others are as well. You might never know how thieves got your information or how much information they stole. So, it is important to check the activity on all your accounts.

Contact your bank.

The first thing you should do if your account has been compromised is call your bank as quickly as possible. You need to notify your bank of suspicious activity. Also, the sooner you report fraud, the more likely you are to have the charges dropped. Your bank can also put flags on your account for extra verification of charges. Then, theft can be detected more quickly. 

Then, get in touch with the fraud division of your bank. Be prepared to tell them the specific charges that are unauthorized including, the amount and the place. The fraud division will then be able to draft claims. Then, the charges may be reversed.

Send back mail to the bank.

After your bank has filed claims and reversed charges, you will probably need to sign some papers or return some kind of official mail. It is important that you complete this paperwork and send it back in a timely manner. Additionally, some banks will remove reversed funds from your account if you do not! Always send this mail as Certified Mail and request a return receipt.

Follow up.

You cannot be sure that your bank has immediately started working on your report. It is important to follow up and verify that your information is no longer at risk and your accounts are safe from thieves.

File a fraud alert.

File a fraud alert with the three major reporting agencies: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Anyone who runs your credit will be notified to verify your identity before doing a transaction that involves your Social Security number.

Your accounts can be compromised in many ways. Whether a thief got your information in a data breach, with a card skimmer, or through malware, you can have charges reversed and prevent further issues if you act quickly and complete the necessary steps. There are some things you can do to protect your accounts in the first place. First, make a habit of regularly checking your spending. The more attention you pay to your money, the more quickly you could notice fraud. Second, use strong passwords on your accounts and change them regularly. Third, be cautious when you log into your accounts. Look for a lock icon on your web browser to ensure that you are on a protected website. Always use secure, protected wi-fi, even when public wi-fi is more convenient.

Spotting suspicious activity on your account can be a heart-stopping moment. Act quickly and take preventative measures to minimize the damages of credit card fraud and identity theft.

Keep your budget and financial goals organized.