– What are Unauthorized Charges –
What are Unauthorized charges: Unauthorized credit card charges can be scary and a hassle, but you won’t have to pay for these charges if you find and report them as soon as you notice them. Unauthorized credit card charges include any type of charge to your account for which you didn’t give permission.
Often, unauthorized charges resulting from credit card theft—either from a stolen credit card or a compromised card number. Sometimes, unauthorized charges result from clerical error or a computer glitch. Either way, it’s your responsibility to find and report these charges as quickly as possible to minimize your liability for charges you didn’t make.
How to Handle Unauthorized Charges
1. Contact Your Bank
First, immediately contact your bank and report an unauthorized charge. If you do this by phone, you should also follow up with a written letter (and keep a copy for your files). Always report fraudulent charges to your bank as soon as you know about them.
When you call, the bank should be able to tell you if the transaction was from a debit card or if it was an electronic transaction. If it was a debit card or point of sale transaction, you’ll want to cancel your card and have it replaced. If it was an electronic transaction, you may need to close the account to prevent further access to your money.
2. Contact the Vendor
Next, contact the merchant to begin the process of disputing the charge. Some vendors may work with you to press fraud charges and to generate a report that you can file with the police.
If the charges have already been posted to your account, you may have to wait several days for the dispute to go through and have the money credited to your account. If you check your transactions on a daily basis, you may be able to catch the charge while it is still pending.
3. Dispute the Charge with Your Bank or Credit Card Company
Oftentimes, you can dispute a charge with your bank or credit card company by filling out a form online and providing some information about the fraudulent charge. You may also have to go into your bank and physically fill out a dispute form. You have 60 days to dispute the charge formally.
4. File a Fraud or Police Report
Depending on the number of charges made and the severity of the situation, you may choose to file a fraud report with your local police department. Be sure to keep a copy of the police report on file in case you need it in the future.
5. Switch Your Bank Drafts to Your New Account or Card
If you close your account as a result of the fraudulent charges, you’ll need to update all your regular bank drafts to reflect your new account information.
6. Monitor Your Account and Credit Closely
Finally, you need to continue to monitor your account and your credit report closely. Remember, it is important to put a stop to any fraudulent charges before the situation escalates to full-blown identity theft.
Be sure to check your credit report every four months, and check on your checking account as frequently as possible—even daily—to monitor for any additional fraudulent charges. If your bank offers alerts, you can sign up for them; they’ll help you keep tabs on your accounts.
Facts About Unauthorized Charges
To deal with unauthorized charges on your account:
- Check your account regularly to catch unauthorized transactions as quickly as possible.
- Report unauthorized charges as soon as you notice them—either to the merchant or your credit card issuer.
- Follow up the dispute with a letter to your credit card issuer to ensure your rights are fully protected.
- Take steps to protect your credit card information to prevent future unauthorized charges.
In many cases, a mysterious charge on your credit card statement is a mistake made by the merchant. If you find that a purchase you made is showing up as a different amount than what’s on your receipt, contact the merchant immediately. With proof of receipt, they should be able to fix the charge.
To spot unauthorized charges, you have to pay close attention to every transaction on your credit card statement, no matter how big or small.
You can catch unauthorized charges more quickly by monitoring your transactions online throughout the month rather than waiting for your billing statement to arrive in the mail.
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