What to Do If You are Billed for Unauthorized Charges on Your Credit Card

by Susan Paige on December 20, 2019 · 0 comments

An unauthorized charge represents any cost reflected on your credit card statement without your permission. In most instances, it is the most common sign that you are a victim of identity theft or credit card theft. As you can imagine, early detection is vital to minimize the damage.

However, the reason fraudulent charges continue unchecked because a significant number of consumers do not study their billing statements. As a result, you continue to incur the damage for several months. If the hackers are smart, they will charge $50 here and there on your bill until you realize the scam.

And here is another problem, if you let the problem fester for a few weeks or months, the credit card company will no longer accommodate your complaint. The bank may even charge you for not reporting the crime on time. 

The decision is not arbitrary, too. The Fair Credit Billing Act mandates the consumer to report the fraudulent charges to their credit card company within two months from the first date of the error entry.

The credit card debt in the USA surpassed the $1 trillion mark for the first time in history. Meanwhile, 30% of consumers are worried that they would max out their credit cards every time they go out shopping. 

If you suspect that you are a victim of fraudulent charges, following the steps below:

  1. Contact your credit card company immediately. Do not delay in calling the hotline and reporting the entry error. It could be a simple mistake, in which case you have nothing to worry about. The company can strike the charges off your bill. Your credit card company typically has a policy of zero-liability if you are a victim of identity theft. However, you may pay $50 for charges made after you reported the error. 
  2. Write a dispute letter. The dispute letter does not have to be a masterpiece. But it should contain the address of the bank, the person you address it to, as well as the following information:
  • Your name, address, and zip code
  • The disputed amount
  • A brief explanation of how the amount is wrong
  • Attached copies of your billing statement
  1. Change your password and PIN. If you think that you are a victim of identity theft, make sure you change all your passwords (emails, cloud, Google account, Facebook, etc.) and credit card PIN. You never know where the breach is coming from.
  2. Ask for a copy of your credit report. Your credit report shows the history of your financial transactions, and this includes your credit card bill. You do not know how pervasive the breach may have been, so it is vital that you check other aspects of your financial information, as well. 

A significant number of Americans, however, are not studying their credit card statement to see the interest rate and purchases. Of course, seeing your debt rise each month is a stressful situation, especially when they do not have the budget to cover the cost. 

A survey of 1,000 American consumers by US News & World Report revealed that 3 in 10 of them are not aware of the interest payments on their credit card. Meanwhile, more than 2 in 10 do not know if they even had credit card debt at all. 

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