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Card issuers and merchants may also look for “friendly fraud,” which is when a cardholder makes a purchase and then disputes it as fraud—even though it wasn’t. Take caution when anyone solicits personal information or wants your credit card number over the phone. Our mission is to provide readers with accurate and unbiased information, and we have editorial standards in place to ensure that happens. Our editors and reporters thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate. Our editorial team does not receive direct compensation from our advertisers.

Often the next step is to receive a new credit card with a new card number by mail. After you’ve reported the identity theft to the proper authorities and begun the process to settle disputes in your credit reports, you may want to take one or two more steps to continue to protect your credit. All three credit bureaus also allow you to lock your credit when you enroll in their individual programs. Certain credit lock programs may also offer extra benefits such as credit monitoring. These options allow you to add protection to your credit and give you peace of mind.

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Your financial losses due to credit card fraud may be limited, but you’ll still have to deal with the hassle and stress. Remember that you can request a new card and account number from your issuer at any time, even before fraud happens.

Personal

No single credit card is the best option for every family, every purchase or every budget. We’ve picked the best credit cards in a way designed to be the most helpful to the widest variety of readers. Credit card companies have sophisticated fraud detection and alert systems. One way to be alerted to possible fraudulent activity on your account is to opt in to text message, call or email alerts. These alerts can notify you if the issuer detects suspected fraud and often allow you to confirm or deny a suspicious charge. If a charge is indeed fraudulent, the issuer will cancel the compromised card and issue a new one as soon as possible. Anytime you leave your wallet somewhere unattended, you risk credit card theft.

How severely is credit card fraud punished?

Physical credit card statements often include your credit card number, making them inviting targets for scammers who have learned how to exploit the United States Postal Service (USPS) system. In fact, the BankCard data breach may have compromised other personal data such as customer account numbers and Social Security numbers (SSN). But you can minimize the inconvenience of credit card fraud by spotting it early and reporting it quickly. Although both a balance transfer credit card and a retail credit card with deferred interest won’t charge you interest during the introductory period, that’s where the similarities end.

But it’s a good idea to check your credit report, keep an eye on your other accounts and monthly statements and regularly change your online passwords. When you check your credit report, look for unfamiliar inquiries, new accounts you didn’t authorize or addresses where you’ve never lived, as these can be signs that someone has stolen your identity. Additionally, make sure you recognize all activity on your accounts and bank statements. If you notice any issues, take appropriate action quickly, as you could be a victim of identity theft. Protect yourself by knowing their most common schemes and proactively taking steps to avoid them.

If you’re using a device that is connected to a publicly shared internet connection, you are vulnerable to hackers. For example, let’s say you’re at your favorite coffee shop and you automatically connect to their public Wi-Fi. If you decide to take care of some bills or other banking business on your phone from inside this coffee shop, you are at risk of cybercriminals hacking into your device through this Wi-Fi channel. There are also credit card fraud prevention measures that could be taking place without you noticing.

It’s important to take these steps even if you think your card was simply misplaced or lost. There are several common ways that criminals gain access to your personal information.

If a restaurant is involved in a scam, there may be no way to know because cards are often handed to the server who can then swipe the card through a skimmer before giving it back to the customer. Authentic card readers are robustly manufactured, meaning if any part of the card reader can easily move around, then it’s probably been installed illegally by a thief. If the buttons on an ATM’s keypad are too hard to push, don’t use that ATM and try another one. Gas pumps should have a security tape or sticker over the cabinet panel. If the tape looks ripped or broken, avoid using the card reader because a thief may have tampered with it. Try looking inside the card reader to see if anything is already inserted—if there is, it may be a thin plastic circuit board that can steal card information. Identify theft can often result in a drop in your credit score and other errors, so you’ll want to dispute any problems as soon as possible.

I was afraid I’d have to do dishes to pay for my room, but my credit card company overnighted me a new card in time for check-out. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and services, or by you clicking on certain links posted on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear within listing categories, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products.

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