More Georgia consumers are getting and using credit cards, and making online purchases with these credit cards. This, combined with the adoption of chip cards in the U.S., caused online credit card fraud to jump by 40% last year. EMV or “chip cards” make it more difficult for fraudsters to steal information from credit cards in-person. However, because so many Georgians prefer to shop online instead of in stores, opportunities for credit card fraud abound. Luckily, most credit cards come with built-in securities. Yet, victims of credit card fraud should still take certain actions to protect their credit scores.
A Three-Step Plan for Georgia Credit Card Fraud Victims
All Georgia credit card users should regularly check their online statements. If you don’t have access to your credit card information online, call your issuer and sign up immediately. With credit card fraud, taking quick action is crucial. This is why you shouldn’t rely on a monthly-issued paper statement.
Georgians who spot a strange transaction on a credit card statement should resist the urge to panic. According to the law, victims of credit card fraud are only liable for $50, no matter how much a fraudster charges. As a courtesy to their customers, though, many credit card companies cover the entire cost of unauthorized transactions. This means that you probably won’t have to pay even $50 IF you report the charge in a timely manner.
Report the credit card fraud immediately to your credit card provider.
Often, credit card companies catch fraudulent transactions before Georgia card holders know they’ve occurred. However, they can’t catch everything. Therefore, if you spot suspicious credit card activity first, contact the issuer right away. When you call, someone will ask you to verify the last legitimate transaction. Next, your current credit card is closed, and a new one is issued within a few days.
At this point, Georgia consumers should take action to protect their credit reports and credit scores. So make sure to confirm that the new credit card is linked to the payment history associated with the old card. On your credit reports, you want both cards to appear as one account. Also, if any auto-paid bills are linked to the credit card, make sure to update your payment information. You don’t want to lose credit score points over an accidental late payment.
Report the credit card fraud to the major credit bureaus.
Call or email TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax after an incident of credit card fraud, and ask them to place fraud alerts on your credit reports. This alerts lenders to the fact that you’re a fraud victim so that they won’t issue new credit in your name without taking extra steps to verify your identity. Fraud alerts are free, and they stay on your credit report for 90 days. With a police report, you can extend the fraud alert for seven years.
In some states, including Georgia, victims of credit card fraud can request a credit freeze. This prevents lenders from pulling either your credit reports or your credit score. This makes it nearly impossible for fraudsters to open new lines of credit in your name. Of course, you can’t apply for new credit either unless you unfreeze your credit reports first. Varying from state to state, consumers pay small fees for both freezing and unfreezing credit reports.
Check your credit reports.
After requesting fraud alerts, Georgia residents are entitled to free copies of their credit reports. These complimentary reports don’t count as the free annual credit reports you’re entitled to receive under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).
Once you’ve received your credit reports, check them over carefully for signs of fraudulent accounts in your name. You should also take this opportunity to verify that all of your credit report information is correct. About 80% of consumer credit reports contain errors of some type – outside of any damage done by credit card fraudsters. So, while going through your credit reports, make a note of ANYTHING that seems inaccurate.
Unauthorized accounts, fraudulent charges, and accidental credit report errors can all bring down credit scores, so these items must be disputed and removed. Doing this requires a specific process, which Georgia consumers do not have to handle on their own. Instead, credit repair lawyers are available – for FREE – from Credit Repair Lawyers of America.
The Free and Legal Way to Clean Up Your Credit Reports
Don’t let errors or unauthorized credit card charges on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (404)591-6680 or sending him a message through our contact page.