A thief charged over $1,600 to my credit card at Bed Bath & Beyond. Here’s how I responded:
- I Caught The Fraud Early: I dive into my accounts regularly, like Scrooge McDuck without the gold. I caught the charges the day after they cleared and quickly ended the theif’s joyride. Once someone gets ahold of your card, they charge as much as they can before the credit line snaps.
- I Called My Bank: I immediately called my bank and reported the fraudulent activity. I asked them to cancel the card, issue a new one, and make sure no shady happenings were affecting my other accounts.
- I Filed A Fraud Alert: Just to be safe, I put a fraud alert in my credit file to make it difficult for anyone—myself included—to open new lines of credit. I filed the request online with Equifax, which then notified the other two credit bureaus. Filing a fraud alert also entitled me to a free copy of my credit report, which I requested.
- I Asked For Help: Sure, I’m a consumer advocate and I know how to handle these situation, but I’m also a forgetful yutz who can’t remember what happened yesterday. To be sure I didn’t leave anything out, I touched base with Ben, Meghann, and Chris. It turns out I did everything right, but there is never any shame in asking for help.
- I Was Grateful: This happened last Saturday, the Ides of March. Things could have been worse.
I chose not to file a police report. I still have the credit card so there isn’t a physical theft to report, and my bank already agreed to remove the charges. If I had lost the card or thought my identity was stolen, I wouldn’t have hesitated to call the police.
All in all, this isn’t a biggie. I spent 45 minutes on the phone and relied on my backup card for a few days. I don’t have debt collectors clamoring for buckets of cash and my credit isn’t ruined. If this was bona fide identity theft, I would have used this post as a guide back to sanity.
Perversely, it was almost fun to use the tools I spend so much time writing about. It’s something I hope none of you ever experience, but if you do, staying calm and knowing how to respond can make all the difference.