When Amanda Abella was 23, her wallet was stolen from her purse while she was at work. Before she realized it was missing, she began receiving texts from her bank about unusual account activity. It was the first time she had experienced fraud on her debit and credit cards.
Resolving fraudulent transactions on her debit card proved difficult and time-consuming. But reversing the unauthorized credit card charges? That was easy.
“It was literally just picking up the phone and calling. ‘Hey, my wallet got stolen. I’m filing a police report. Shut down the account. Send me a new card.’ And that was it,” says Abella, of Miami. “They refunded me all the weird transactions.” Now 29, Abella is the author of the book “Make Money Your Honey.”
If you’re dealing with sketchy charges on your credit card, chances are the process will be pretty straightforward for you, too. Here’s what to do.
TAKE STOCK OF YOUR PROTECTIONS
First, take a deep breath and remember: As long as you report unauthorized credit card charges to the issuer, you typically won’t have to pay for them. That’s thanks to protections under federal law and “zero liability” policies from credit card networks.
“For unauthorized use, your liability is limited to $50” under credit card law, says Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney for the National Consumer Law Center. “So if your thief uses your card to run up a bunch of charges, you can only be liable for $50. And if it’s used for an Internet purchase, they can’t even charge you for the $50, if the card isn’t present.” Many issuers also waive that $50 because of zero liability policies, she says.