February Security Tip
How to Handle Unauthorized Transactions on Your Account
If you run into unauthorized transactions on your bank account, it is important to act quickly to protect yourself and to stop any further unauthorized charges. Following these steps may help:
Contact Your Bank
Contact your bank to find out more about the transaction. They will be able to tell you if the unauthorized truncation was from a debit card, or if it was an ACH (or electronic) transaction. If it was a debit card of point of sale transaction, then cancelling your debit card may be enough to stop fraudulent transactions in the future. The Bank should be able to cancel the debit card for you right over the phone. If it was an ACH transaction, you will most likely need to close your account. Most banks require you to visit a physical branch location to close your account in person. They should also place a “temporary freeze” on the account to stop additional charges from accruing.
Contact the Vendor
You should contact the vendor listed on the fraudulent transaction to begin the process of disputing the charge. This process may take a couple of days. Reviewing your checking account transactions on a regular basis may help you detect fraudulent charges more quickly, which may help you resolve the issue faster.
Dispute the Charge With Your Bank or Credit Card Company
You may be able to dispute a charge with your bank or credit card company by filling out a form online and providing some information about the fraudulent charge. Some banks may ask you to fill out a form in person at your local branch. You have 60 days to dispute your charge formally, so it is important to act as quickly as you can. Balancing your account with your bank statement on a regular basis, either monthly or weekly, is a good way to stay vigilant.
File a Fraud or Police Report
Depending on the number of charges made and the severity of the situation, you may need to file a fraud report with your local police department. This shows the bank that you did not make the charges and can help to clear up your account. The police report may also be necessary if you find out that the thief has attempted identity theft, as well. Be sure to keep a copy of the police report on file in case you need it in the future.
Monitor Your Account and Credit Closely
Finally, you need to continue to monitor your account and your credit report closely. If the user had direct access to your checking account and not just your debit card, you may want to put a temporary freeze on your credit report to add a layer of extra protection.
Remember, it is important to put a stop to any fraudulent charges before it can turn into full-blown identity theft. Be sure to check your credit report every few months, and check on your checking account daily to make sure no additional fraudulent charges are made.