Police do not directly investigate a credit card theft as a credit card agency often undertakes it. However, the police will lodge a report for you and may investigate the incident if it is an organized crime.
Let us discuss how you can protect yourself from credit card theft and when you should file the police report.
What is Credit Card Theft?
Credit card theft is when a person’s credit card is stolen physically or vital information to use the card is obtained mischievously.
Credit card theft is one of the several forms of card fraud. It happens when someone steals your credit card and uses it before you report or block it.
A similar method used by thieves is to create counterfeit credit cards matching the information on your card. Both result in losses for the cardholder.
Credit card theft can also take online forms. It happens when someone uses your credit card information remotely for online shopping. Usually, internet hackers use malicious hacking tools to obtain your credit card information.
Credit Card Theft v Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when someone obtains your personal information like social security number, email password, DOB, and any other information that results in a loss for you.
Credit card fraud or theft is when someone steals your credit card information.
Do Police Investigate Credit Card Theft?
Yes, police do investigate credit card theft and fraud in some cases. However, not every case of credit card fraud is investigated by police.
Police will formally investigate credit card theft if it is an organized crime and several cardholders are affected. In other words, if the card issuer or the bank becomes an applicant, then the police will launch a formal investigation.
Credit card agencies use other mediums to investigate credit card theft and fraud. They do report these incidents to state and federal authorities including police.
Credit card theft falls under the state regulatory environment. You’ll need to contact your local authorities including the police to investigate such incidents.
When You Should File a Police Report for a Credit Card Theft?
The FDIC recommends you should immediately file a police report for a credit card theft incident. The same goes for identify theft and any other suspicious transactions on your credit card statement.
Leading banks and credit unions also suggest reporting these incidents to the police. Whether the police will investigate the incident or not is another issue.
The police will usually redirect the case to credit reporting agencies and credit bureaus. However, if you find a large transaction or a series of unauthorized transactions, you’ll need a police report as well.
If you can identify suspicious transactions on your credit card statement, you should provide a copy to the police. Also, provide them with any supporting documents that help your case.
How to Report Credit Card Theft?
Reporting credit card theft to the police is the only step of the process. For complete protection, you should inform all relevant parties if you are a victim of credit card theft.
Credit Card Issuer
First of all, inform your credit card issuer as soon as you realize the credit card theft. You can call your bank or credit card company’s helpline 24/7.
Ask the service agent to block your credit card immediately. If there are any unauthorized transactions, report them as well.
The next step you should take is to inform one of three credit bureaus to protect your credit score.
Credit bureaus can freeze your credit profile and make it harder for card stealers to use your card. It will also help you remove negative points on your credit history due to unauthorized usage.
State and Federal Authorities
You can report the incident to local and federal authorities. Experts suggest informing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and getting a copy of your report.
You do not need to file a police report if you inform a federal agency. However, you may also opt for both options and file a police report at your local station.
What Other Steps to Take if You’re a Victim of Card Theft?
Apart from reporting a theft or fraud incident, you should take a few other steps to proactively protect your credit card.
Credit Report Alert
When you contact one of three credit bureaus, ask them to put a credit freeze on your profile. Providing a credit report alert to credit bureaus will ensure user authentication.
You do not need to report to all credit bureaus though as alerting one of them will suffice.
Hackers and credit card stealers may want to use your credit card information to obtain a new line of credit.
So, locking or freezing your credit will mean no new debt issuance under your name. However, you wouldn’t be able to apply for a new credit card until your credit is locked.
Monitor Bank and Card Statements
You should monitor bank and credit card statements even if you are not a credit card fraud victim.
It is wise to set transaction alerts and verify each transaction as and when it happens. This practice ensures you’ll immediately report any unauthorized transactions to the bank and credit card issuers.
Change Account Authorization Settings
If you feel your credit card information is stolen, try to change your account password immediately.
If you cannot change the password successfully, report the incident as outlined above to protect yourself.
How to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Theft and Fraud?
Credit card fraud and thefts are everywhere. Online and offline card thefts are becoming common. The only thing under your control is to protect yourself from these acts.
Take these steps for protection and safeguard your credit card information.
Know the Credit Card Safety Features
Knowing what credit card safety features are available will enable you to protect your credit card information.
- EMV Chip: These chips are a very standard feature of modern credit and debit cards. EMV chips provide an additional layer of security to credit cards.
- Contactless Cards: Most credit cards offer this service nowadays. You can only tap or use a QR code to make payments instead of swiping it.
- Virtual Credit Cards: Credit card issuers can also provide you with virtual credit card numbers to protect your original card number and other information.
Beware of the Threats
Knowing what tactics card stealers and hackers use will help you understand the threats. You can then take steps to protect your identity and credit card information.
Monitor Your Credit Card Statement Regularly
Regularly check your credit card statement and identify any unknown transactions there. Monitoring your credit card statement regularly will ensure you’re immediately aware of any unauthorized transactions.
Set Up Credit Card Alerts
Setting up transaction alerts, limit alerts, and security features like two-factor authentication will ensure you notice any harmful activities.
You should also set online account access alerts for further security.
Protect Your Credit Card Information
Use secured sites for online shopping only. Also, use internet protection through malware and anti-virus software.
Similarly, protect your credit card information when paying at an offline POS. Do not share your credit card number or security code with anyone.