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Purchase Patrol: How to Dispute Fraudulent Charges

Jul 10, 2012
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Online fraud

Chances are you’ve made at least a few purchases online. Although methods for preventing thieves from nabbing your card number are improving, you still have to be careful. If you notice any suspicious activity on your account, call your financial institution right away to notify them of possible fraud.

How much are you liable for if your credit card is stolen?

Federal law guarantees that victims of fraudulent charges are only responsible for up to $50 of the charges if the credit card itself was involved in the transactions. If the information was stolen, and not the card itself, then the cardholder has zero liability.

Note: If your debit card was stolen, act fast or you could end up losing everything in your account.

What to do after your credit card is stolen

After you’ve notified your issuer, file a police report and contact the credit reporting bureaus. They can flag your account so you will be contacted before any new line of credit is opened. You’ll also have the option of freezing your account so that lenders cannot review your credit history. This also blocks new lines of credit from opening, and it can take several days to unfreeze. Follow up your phone calls with a letter detailing your situation, including when you notified your issuer of the fraud.

Contact info for all three credit bureaus:

Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, Ga. 30374

P.O. Box 2002
Allen, Texas 75013

P.O. Box 1000
Chester, Pa. 19022


Ariel Dreyer has been writing professionally since 2005. She graduated from Bennington College in 2008 with a B.A. in Literature and has worked in finance for several environmental, social, and political campaigns. Her writing has appeared in the Boston Herald, EDGE Publications, and the Cape Codder, among others. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines Silo and Stymie, and her short story “Jamie and I” was included in a book published by Grand Central Publishing. Her flash fiction “The Rebellion” was featured on nthWord magazine’s blog. More of her creative work can be found at her website, Cartoons on Porcelain, and If at All Possible, which features her flash fiction and prose poetry. Ariel is presently based in Massachusetts.

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on your taxes, your investments, the law or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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