What to Do If You See a Fraudulent Charge on Your Account

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

It seems like every time we read the news there's a new breach that puts a company and their customers' information at risk. When it comes to your financial accounts, that can particularly give a feeling of anxiety.

With card skimming, you run the risk of someone getting your debit card information every time you use it. This means you have to take the necessary steps to keep track of your bank accounts on a regular basis. The faster you find and react to an unauthorized charge the more protected you will be.

As you take a review of your account and discover an unknown charge, you need to act quickly. The steps below will get your bank to take the necessary actions and protect you from any further unauthorized charges.

Tell your Bank

The first step you need to take is contacting your bank about the authorized charge. Your bank should be able to find out more about the transaction, such as if was from an electronic source (ACH) or a debit card. An ACH transaction will most likely mean you will need to close out your account. If the transaction was made with a debit card or point of sale, then canceling your debit card might be enough.

You might have to head over to your bank in order to get your account closed out. Canceling your debit card can typically be done over the phone or on an app (depending on your bank's mobile options). Talk to your bank about putting a temporary freeze on the affected account. This will prevent further charges from occurring until you get a resolution.

Get in touch with the Vendor

You will now need to get in contact with the vendor so you can dispute the charge. Depending on the vendor, they might be able to press fraud charges that will enable a report to generate that you can then file with the police. You will want to talk to them about that possibility to see if it's an option for your situation.

Keep in mind you might have to wait a few days if the charges have already posted to your account in order for you to be able to have your dispute go through and have money credited to the account. It's important for you to make it a habit to check your account transactions on a regular basis, ideally every day, so you are able to catch charges that are still pending.

Dispute the charge

Whether the charge is from an account you have with your bank or credit card company, you should be able to dispute any fraudulent charges through a form online. You may have to provide some information about the charge in this form. In addition, you might also have the ability to go to your bank to fill out a dispute form there.

In most cases, you have 60 days to dispute a charge, but the faster you act the better. You want to have the money restored to your account as soon as possible.

File a Police report

In a case where you had several unauthorized charges made you might be able to file a fraud report with the police. It could help your cause because it shows the bank you didn't make the charges and helps you get your account cleared up. Keep in mind doing so doesn't mean you will get your money back any faster.

If the person responsible has also attempted identity theft your police report will be helpful in investigating that. Keep a copy of your police report in your own records just in case you need it sometime down the line.

Get a new Account or Card

If you and your bank have determined you will need to close your account, there are a number of things that may mean for you. Any direct deposit such as your paycheck or auto drafts you have on your account will need to be switched.

Automatic drafts may include your water bill, Netflix, and other membership services or household bills will need to be updated. It's a good idea to keep track of the automatic charges you have set up, so it makes it easier to get everything changed. You might have extra charges if a bill goes unpaid or bounces.

Keep track of your Account on a regular basis

After a fraudulent charge, you will need to especially be aware of your account. You will want to request and review your credit report. In particular, if someone had access to your checking account, you might consider putting a temporary freeze on your credit report. This adds another layer of protection in case the thief tries to use your credit for other purposes.

This is really important in order for you to be more protected from additional fraudulent charges that can turn into identity theft. Your credit report should be checked once every four months. Check your checking account every day to ensure no other fraudulent charges come up.