Credit card fraud

Checking your credit report can help you see if you’re a victim of credit card fraud

According to the Office of National Statistics, there were some 1,972,000 victims of bank and credit account fraud in the year ending December 2017. Of these, 171,000 were out of pocket: they only received a partial refund, or nothing at all. It’s important to check your credit report often, as it can help you spot suspicious activity in your name, such as credit card fraud. Your credit report lists your credit accounts, as well as any hard searches on your credit file. Look at your credit accounts to see if any have been opened in your name that you didn’t open yourself, and contact the lender as soon as you can. Definitely look at hard searches on your credit report. A hard search is carried out on your credit file when you complete an application for credit. If there are any hard searches shown on your credit report you don’t recognise, it could be a sign that someone has used your details to take out credit fraudulently. It’s good to get into the habit of checking your credit report often, as it can help you spot problems before they become a big issue. You can sign up for your Free Credit Report with TotallyMoney. We don’t need any card details, and it won’t harm your credit rating.

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Credit card fraud victim? Take these steps

If after you’ve checked your credit report you find you might have been a victim of credit card fraud, there are a few things you need to do.

1. Cancel your card as soon as possible

If you’re a victim of credit card fraud, you need to contact the lender and cancel the card and the account as soon as possible. Note there’s no guarantee you’ll get any money back a fraudster has spent on your card, so it’s vital you act fast to stop further spending.

2. Check your transactions

You might have identified fraudulent spending on your credit card by checking your statements or looking at online banking. But, if that’s not the case, you should ask your lender when you cancel your card to go through your transactions. If there are any you don’t recognise, you should report them as fraudulent.

3. Try to get your money back

If you’re a victim of credit card fraud, it’s not always easy to get your money back. Banks and lenders must be satisfied you haven’t been negligent with your card and card details before they’ll refund you. Often, banks and lenders won’t take fraudulent cases at face value. For example, if spending on your card has happened in the same area as you, it’s likely you’ll have to prove it wasn’t you. Even if the spending happened in a different area — and you can prove you were somewhere different — banks and lenders will need to be convinced you’re not in cahoots with the fraudster. Banks and lenders look at patterns. If they’re happy the disputes you raise are genuine, they should refund you.

4. Report it to Action Fraud

By reporting credit card fraud to Action Fraud, you could help put an end to fraudsters working in the area. When you report credit card fraud to them, you’ll get a crime reference number. This is to help keep track of your report. Action Fraud doesn’t have investigative powers; what they do is build your report and send it to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). NFIB reviews the evidence, looks at patterns, and tries to follow viable leads. It can all help build a picture of fraudsters working in a particular area. If there’s enough evidence, NFIB will send it to a police force to investigate further.

5. Correct any impact on your credit file

You need to check your credit report to see if the credit card fraud has had a negative effect on your credit rating. If it has, you should try and get it restored to how it was before the fraud happened. If the bank or lender rules you haven’t been negligent and you are a genuine victim of credit card fraud, they will be able to get in touch with the credit reference agencies to get your credit rating put right. But, they might not automatically do this. It’s your responsibility to get in touch with them and ask them to do it. Should the bank or lender rule you have been negligent, you might want to raise the case with the Financial Ombudsman Service. Often, correcting your credit file will be part of the settlement if the ombudsman rules in your favour.

Ways to prevent credit card fraud

Once you’ve followed the steps above, there are certain things you can do to prevent yourself falling victim to credit card fraud in the future.

1. Join CIFAS under protective registration

If you join CIFAS under protective registration, extra measures will be in place to ensure you don’t fall victim to credit card fraud again. This means that, whenever a credit application is made in your name, lenders will carry out more checks to make sure the application was made by you. The lender may even contact you. Due to these extra measures, your credit applications might take longer. It costs £20 for two years to join CIFAS, which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind it gives.

2. Keep your PIN safe

The best thing to do is commit your PIN to memory and then throw away the piece of paper it’s printed on. Tear it up, feed it to your dog, flush it down the loo — just make sure it’s gone. Whenever you use your debit or credit card, make sure you always shield your PIN. This is to stop fraudsters from peering over your shoulder and learning your PIN, and to stop hidden cameras from capturing it. Avoid storing PINs in your phone, too. It’s not uncommon for phones to get lost or stolen and having a catalogue of PINs could cause problems. For example, your handbag could be stolen with your purse and phone in it. If money is spent on your credit card, lenders might not refund it because they could argue you’ve been negligent by storing your PINs in your phone, as well as by keeping your phone near your card.

3. Only shop with reputable companies

Although it’s tempting to snap up a bargain before it’s too late, try not to be too hasty. If you’re shopping online, you should first check the site uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). It’s an industry-standard encryption service that helps keep your data private. You’ll know if the site uses it because the web address will start with HTTPS, instead of HTTP. Another thing to look for is the little green padlock at the beginning of the web address, which most modern browsers have. It shows the site uses Transport Layer Security (TLS), securing your data further. It’s also a good idea to see what other customers have said about the company by looking at reviews on Trustpilot and Google. If in doubt, shop somewhere else.

4. Use your brain

If anything seems suspicious, don’t go ahead. A quick Google search will soon show up what other people have said about the company. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it often is.