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Credit card companies and banks frequently monitor the accounts of their cardholders and they often contact cardholders to verify suspicious activity. However, credit card companies handle countless accounts, and it’s impossible for them to catch every incident of fraud. For this reason, it’s imperative that you monitor your own account and recognize how to detect fraud.
Bank of America reports that “over 50 percent of all identity fraud is first discovered by the victim.” Credit card fraud is a type of identity fraud — and if not caught early — credit card fraud can negatively impact your credit score. Being proactive and keeping a close eye on your accounts is key to avoiding fraud and maintaining a strong credit score.
- Missing Credit Card Statements
It’s difficult to track statement arrival dates when you have multiple accounts in your name. However, keeping track of arrival dates helps detect fraud on your credit card accounts faster. The postal service can deliver your statement to another address or someone can take your credit card statement from your mailbox. With your name, address and credit card number, thieves can purchase items in your name. Contact your credit card company to report missing statements and ask the company to closely monitor your account for unusual activity. Signing up for paperless statements helps keep your sensitive information safe and prevents theft.
- View Your Account Activity Online
Don’t depend solely on your credit card company to monitor your account. Take an active role and sign up for online account management and frequently check your account for unauthorized transactions. You’ll receive 24-hour access to your account and you can view your account activity before statements arrive in the mail. Being able to access your account information at any time helps detect credit card fraud early and reduces your risk of becoming a full-blown identity theft victim.
- Sign Up for Email Alerts
Automatic email alerts are your best defense against credit card fraud. The process is simple. Contact your credit card company and ask to receive email alerts whenever suspicious activity occurs with your account. The majority of credit card companies contact cardholders via home phone. But if you’re not home when they call and if you never provided your cellular number, it can take days to discover the fraud. Email alerts are fast and effective, especially since many people have email access on their cellular phones. Alerts include information about the transaction, as well as a link in the body of the email to confirm the legitimacy of the transaction.
Importance of Credit Report Monitoring
Keeping your credit safe and avoiding fraud involves much more than monitoring your existing accounts. People who steal your personal information can open new accounts in your name and accumulate a ton of debt in your name. Take advantage of free credit report services, such as AnnualCreditReport.com and order copies of your credit reports annually. This is one of the best ways to monitor your complete credit history and detect all types of fraud early