It’s never a good feeling to look at your credit card statement and wonder, what is this charge on my credit card? When it comes to fraudulent credit card charges, your bank has often got your back. They have methods for spotting activity that isn’t normal, and they’ll usually alert you when a charge seems suspicious.
That said, your bank might not catch everything, and there may be a charge that’s accidentally incorrect. So it’s important that you, too, keep an eye on your credit card statement to catch these errors and report anything that’s amiss immediately. Here’s what to watch out for and tips for handling a dispute.
What Are Fraudulent Credit Card Charges?
Credit card fraud can happen if someone steals your card or the information on your card, or hacks into your account. Someone could do so by stealing your physical card, skimming your card information at a credit card terminal, through phishing scams over email, or by stealing your mail. Fraudsters then use the information they’ve stolen to make unauthorized purchases on your credit card.
Most cards offer zero liability on fraudulent charges, meaning you won’t be responsible for covering charges you didn’t authorize. This is an important feature of how credit cards work. However, it’s important that you catch fraudulent charges early so you can report them quickly and minimize your liability.
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Detecting Unauthorized Credit Card Charges Early
The key to spotting unauthorized charges on your credit card is remaining vigilant and always checking your credit card statement each month. When you receive your statement, follow these steps:
• Open statements immediately. Avoid letting a few months of credit card statements accumulate before checking them. Open them immediately so you can catch errors and head off fraud as quickly as possible. Going through your statements regularly will also offer a clearer understanding of how credit card payments work.
• Check every purchase. Fraudsters know that small unauthorized credit card charges are less likely to get flagged. Go down the list of purchases you’ve made on your card over the last month and make sure you recognize the merchant and can match the sale with an item or service you bought.
• Keep receipts. Hang on to receipts from credit card purchases so you can match them up to the items in your statement. This can also help if you’re unsure of how to identify a credit card transaction.
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Fraudulent Credit Card Charges vs Billing Errors
Fraudulent charges are a result of theft. However, sometimes you may be charged for something that was due to a billing error. For example, perhaps you were charged twice for an item, or you were charged for goods or services that you never received.
Other billing errors could include:
• Unauthorized charges, for which federal law limits your liability to $50
• Charges that list the wrong date or amount
• Errors in math
• Charges for goods or services that you didn’t accept or weren’t delivered as agreed
• Failure to post payments or credits, such as after you’ve returned an item.
You can correct these errors using procedures laid out by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). If a charge is found to be made in error, your credit card company will carry out a credit card chargeback, reversing the charges.
Reporting Unauthorized Credit Card Charges
Procedures for reporting fraud and billing errors are slightly different.
If you suspect fraud, you’ll take the following steps:
• Contact your card issuer immediately. Tell them you suspect that you’ve been a victim of fraud. Your issuer can then investigate the charge.
• Ask for your accounts to be suspended or closed, and ask to be issued a new card. Change passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) on your accounts.
• File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can do so at Identitytheft.gov .
• Contact the three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Confirm your identity with them and check your credit reports for any other fraudulent activities. Consider having a fraud alert connected to your accounts.
If you’re disputing a billing error, first call your credit card company and alert them to the error. The credit card company will investigate. If they find there was an error, your account will be corrected, and you will not pay credit card purchase interest charges on the amount for which you were billed.
In addition, send your credit card company written notification of an error. Use FBCA procedures to dispute the credit card charges, including the following steps:
• Write to the creditor at the address they provide for billing inquiries. This address may be different from the one to which you send payments. Include your name, address, and account number, as well as a description of the billing error you’ve spotted. The FTC provides a sample letter that you can use.
• In the envelope, include copies of receipts and other supporting documents.
• Be sure to mail your letter within 60 days of the first bill you received that contained the error.
• Send the letter by certified mail and ask for a receipt so you can be sure your creditor received it.
• Keep a copy of the dispute letter.
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How to Read Your Credit Card Statement
It’s important to get familiar with how to read your credit card statement. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) requires that each of your credit card statements includes certain pieces of information.
First, there should be a section that includes your account information. This is where you’ll find your name, account number, and the date of the billing cycle.
Next, the account summary is an overview of transaction information on your card. This section will include the payment due date, any payments or credits that have been applied to the account, any fees that have been charged to you, and the total amount of your account balance.
Following this summary is a detailed account of the purchases you’ve made over the billing period. Each line item will include the vendor name, the date the purchase was made, the category (such as “groceries”), and the amount that was charged to your card. Go through this section carefully as you look for fraudulent charges or charges in error. This is how to find who charged your credit card.
Your statement will include other sections that detail payment information, interest or credit card finance charges, rewards, and account fine print.
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Credit Card Security and Fraud Protection
When you apply for a credit card, carefully look at the security measures the card issuer has in place. Credit cards, such as the credit card offered by SoFi, can have a variety of measures to keep your information safe and protected from fraud.
Fraud protection limits your responsibility and liability for fraudulent charges. Many banks offer $0 liability. The FCBA limits liability to $50 for card-present fraudulent charges, and $0 if the card is not present, such as for online charges made with stolen credit card information.
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Fraudulent charges or billing errors are an unfortunate part of having a credit card. Your bank may catch some of them, but it’s also important to be proactive and keep an eye out for fraud and errors on your credit card statement. Bringing them to the attention of your credit card company will help you get the issue sorted faster and head off potential future fraud.
Another way to keep yourself safe is by choosing a credit card that offers strong fraud protections. The credit card offered by SoFi, for example, offers Mastercard ID theft protection, which keeps your personal information safe by detecting potential fraud.
How do I file a fraudulent charge claim with my credit card company?
If you spot a fraudulent charge on your credit card statement, call your card company immediately and ask them to investigate.
How do I find out where a charge came from?
You can see where a charge was made in the detailed purchase information provided on your credit card statement.
How do I look up a charge from my credit card statement?
If you’re unsure about a charge on your credit card statement, call your credit card company, which may be able to do a credit card charge lookup by merchant.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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