What If It Happens to You?
Credit card fraud can happen to anyone. Usually taking the form of card skimming, a thief will use a counterfeit scanner which will collect all of a card’s details. At the other extreme, a person can assume your entire identity and open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, get loans and even submit tax returns in your name. Many people have lost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars through this type of fraud. If it does happen to you though, what’s your legal recourse? Knowing what you can do if this occurs can save you time, money and a lot of stress.
What you can do if you’re a victim of credit card fraud
If you find you’ve been a victim of credit card fraud, notify your card provider and the police immediately and give them as accurate information as you possibly can. If you used an ATM and you remember the location of the ATM you used before the theft then there might be cameras nearby that they can review. Apart from this, there’s not much. Until they catch the perpetrator, charges cannot be laid. Your best bet is to just pass on the information to the authorities and then hope for the best.
The main thing is not to panic. So here is what you do in case you fall victim to credit card fraud:
1. Contact your credit card issuer or Bank.
The first thing you should do is call the credit card issuer or bank and notify them of any fraudulent charges and put a stop on the card or close affected accounts right away. This number can be found on the back of your credit card. Know that you will most likely not have to pay for any unauthorized charges. Once you are able to identify a suspicious charge, you are protected under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, a federal law that limits your liability to $50, says Jason Steele, credit card expert for CompareCards.com. “Yet in practice,” explains Steele, “nearly all card issuers waive this amount by having a zero liability policy.”
2. Change your online passwords.
To err on the side of caution, be sure to change your usernames, passwords, and PIN numbers for all your credit cards, banking accounts, and online store accounts. This will prevent the fraudsters from doing further damage. You can also turn off your cards immediately by contacting your credit card issuer or bank.
3. Contact the credit bureaus.
Contact one of the credit agencies—Veda Advantage, Dun and Bradstreet, or Tascol—to put a fraud alert on your credit. By telling one credit agency, the other two will also be notified. This is free and pretty easy.
You can also request a credit freeze, which restricts access to your credit report and prevents identity thieves from opening new accounts using your personal information. If a potential lender needs access to your credit report, you’ll need to request a temporary lift on the freeze. Depending on the laws of the state you live in, credit freezes may be free or carry a small charge. If you are a victim of identity theft it may also be free.
You’ll also want to request a copy of your credit report. You can get one for free at www.mycreditfile.com.au
. You can also obtain a free report after setting a fraud alert.
4. File a report with the Attorney-General`s Department for a commonwealth Victims Certificate
The Attorney-General's Department administers a scheme associated with the provision of certificates where an individual or a business is the victim of Commonwealth identity crime.
If you or your business is a victim of identity crime and you have a Commonwealth Victims' Certificate
, you may present the certificate and any other relevant information to a government agency or other organisation. The certificate will help support your claim that you have been a victim of Commonwealth identity crime and will allow you to seek assistance in rectifying problems you have suffered as a consequence of the crime. The certificate doesn’t, however, bind an organisation to take action.
5. File a police report.
By filing a police report, you’ll have legal evidence of the incident. You’ll also able to request a credit freeze for free. Contact your local police department if they recommend you coming in person to file a report, doing it over the phone, or if they’ll have an officer come to you. Make sure you have as much information as possible before you file a report, such as the date of the incident and the amount stolen.
6. Check your credit card and bank statements frequently.
“The first thing that people need to know is that no one cares as much about your money as you do, that is why it is vital that you are extremely diligent in protecting yourself. You should always check your online banking account and credit card statements frequently. If you notice any signs of fraud, notify your credit card issuer or bank right away. By doing so you will limit any further risk of fraud.
While credit card fraud is a scary thing, taking these steps right away will minimize damage and prevent you from further incidences. With the right information and patience, you’ll be well on your way to correcting fraudulent charges and to a clean credit bill of health.
Who is responsible?
Customers are only found to be held liable if they were said to have acted with extreme carelessness. The Electronic Funds Transfer Code in Australia protects consumers from credit card fraud. Australian banks have committed to the Code. Therefore, if you are a victim of credit card fraud, financial liability will not fall on you.