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What to do when your credit card is compromised

Credit card information can be stolen even when the card is right in your hands. Every time we use our cards, there’s a possibility that our information can be compromised. Instead of dwelling on these risks, there are many things you can do to plan, prevent, detect and respond to the threat of compromised information. The threats may be ever-present, but your ability to stop fraudulent activity puts the power in your hands.

Let’s say you’re at the grocery store when you learn an unauthorized charge has appeared on your credit card. You’re chatting with your neighbor in the checkout line when your phone buzzes with an alert that your card is being used in Las Vegas, while you are thousands of miles away.
When you reach the grocery store counter, your card is declined. You immediately call your financial institution, which tells you that you are overdrawn. What do you do?

You might start by asking yourself all the usual questions. How can this be? Where was my information compromised? Your first plan of action should be to review your transaction history, which can help you isolate the fraudulent charges and file a dispute. It is a good idea to get in a regular habit of checking your recent transactions, so you can identify fraudulent activity before your account is drained or your financial institution blocks your card.

When you file a dispute, your financial institution should put you in contact with the fraud department, which will likely suggest that you get a new card issued or simply close the account to prevent any additional losses. Fraud teams are often aware of large-scale financial scams in your area before you are—and they have likely seen all the scam scenarios—so they are a great resource for combating scams both before and after they occur. The Fraud experts at First Tech have plenty of resources available online, in-person and over the phone to help you identify and combat fraud. If you suspect that one of your First Tech accounts has been compromised, and you would like to explore the possibility of filing a dispute, you can notify First Tech on our 24-hour hotline at 855-855-8805.

The good news is that there are plenty of actions you can take to protect yourself from scams before your financial information ever becomes a target.  Here are three easy ways to protect yourself from scams before your financial information ever becomes a target:

  1. Be wary of attachments and links in emails, particularly if they are unexpected or are from untrusted sources. Email attachments are a common vehicle for scammers, and the malware that lurks within can swipe information from your phone or computer.
  2. Avoid banking online in public areas, especially when you are on a public computer or a public wifi connection. 
  3. Keep your anti-virus software updated and running to help protect yourself from evolving scams. 

Once your information has been compromised, it’s important to act fast. Contact your financial institution—and possibly local law enforcement—to alert them to the fraudulent activity and explore the possibility of putting a freeze on your credit. Remembering all the places that you used your card recently can help identify how and where your information was lifted: did you buy something from a new or insecure website? Did you open any unfamiliar email attachments or links? Could your card have been skimmed at the gas station? Understanding your spending history will help shape how you respond.

For more information, follow these links to learn how you can predict, prevent, detect and respond to threats on your information security.