A few years ago, I went through a phase when I was on the phone with the bank every couple of months to report credit card fraud. Sometimes the bank would send me a text about questionable charges. Sometimes I would notice something fishy when I went to pay my bill, and I’d have to call them to dispute the charge. I never had any problems getting reimbursed, though one time I had to explain in quite a lot of detail why I didn’t, in fact, spend money at a hotel in the same town that I live in.
I was lucky, actually. The largest fraudulent purchase was only around $300 and I never had to actually fight for my money. I never paid for purchases that I didn’t make. I never had money stolen directly from my account. My debit card (the one linked to my bank account) was never compromised. My biggest annoyance was waiting a week every time I had to be mailed a new credit card.
But this isn’t something that just happens to me. In fact, in 2017, 16.7 million Americans became the victims of financial fraud and lost a total of $16.8 billion. You can become the victim of fraud in many ways: You could physically lose your credit or debit card and a criminal could pick it up to make purchases in store or online. You could have your credit or debit card number compromised after making a purchase, and then a criminal could use your number to make other purchases. You could have your Social Security number stolen and a criminal could use your identity to open new accounts in your name, but make all the purchases themself. That last one is probably the scariest, since you may not know it’s even happening until debt collectors come calling.
So what do you do if you become one of the unlucky ones and notice some weird charges on your statements or when you check your account online?
- Check whether you have your card in your possession. If your card was physically stolen, you may be liable for some of the charges.
- If your credit card is missing, you may be responsible for paying up to $50 in fraudulent charges.
- If you call your credit card company and report the card as lost or stolen before any charges are made, you are responsible for $0.
- If you call your credit card company and report the card as lost or stolen after charges have been made, you are responsible for up to $50.
- If your ATM or debit card is missing, you may be responsible for paying all of the charges.
- If you call your bank and report the card as lost or stolen before any charges are made, you are responsible for $0.
- If you call your bank and report the card as lost or stolen within two days of the loss or theft, you are responsible for up to $50.
- If you call your bank and report the card as lost or stolen more than two days after the loss or theft but fewer than 60 days after receiving your bank statement, you are responsible for up to $500.
- If you call your bank and report the card as lost or stolen more than 60 days after receiving your bank statement, you are responsible for all of the charges
- If your credit card is missing, you may be responsible for paying up to $50 in fraudulent charges.
- Call the bank to report the theft and identify the fraudulent charges. As soon as you know whether your card was physically stolen or just the numbers were used fraudulently, call your bank or credit card company. Tell them that your card has been compromised, whether or not it’s in your possession, and tell them which charges were made by someone other than you.
- If your credit card number was stolen, but the card is in your possession, you are not responsible for any of the unauthorized charges.
- If your ATM or debit card number was stolen, but the card is in your possession, you are not responsible for any of the unauthorized charges if you report the fraud within 60 days of receiving your bank statement.
Once you’ve reported the fraud to your bank or credit card company, they will investigate the charges. This can take a few weeks, and you might be given a temporary credit to your account to hold you over until the investigation is complete. At this point, you’ll either get to keep the temporary credit that was refunded to you, you’ll receive a credit for the amount of the disputed charges, or you will be notified in writing that the investigation concluded that the charges were authorized, and the disputed amount will not be refunded to your account (or the temporary credit you received will be taken back). You will also receive a new card in the mail.
3. Read your statements carefully. No matter which account was compromised, keep a close eye on all of your account statements in the future. Compare receipts to charges to ensure that no fraudulent charges slip through the cracks. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call your bank or credit card company again.
4. Consider more drastic measures. If you’re worried about your identity being compromised, you can call one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) and ask for a fraud alert. It’s free to place a fraud alert and it can make it harder for criminals to open accounts in your name; having a fraud alert ensures that if you (or someone masquerading as you) tries to open an account, steps will be taken to confirm your identity before the account can be opened. Fraud alerts last for 90 days, but can be renewed. Extended fraud alerts, which are offered to victims of identity theft, last for seven years.
You could also ask each of the credit bureaus to place a credit freeze on your file. This essentially locks your file and prevents anyone from accessing your credit report without your permission. It is more robust than a fraud alert, because you are the almost the only one who can unlock your file—current creditors and government agencies with a court order may also gain access to your file. A credit freeze generally lasts as long as you want it to, but every time you apply for credit (apply for a new credit card, apply for a mortgage, buy a car) you will have to temporarily lift the credit freeze. It’s more of a hassle, but it is an effective way to combat identity theft. Credit bureaus do charge for credit freezes.
Stay safe and good luck!
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.49% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.48% effective April 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.49% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.41%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.11%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|