If you like checking up on your bank account and your transactions regularly, you may notice an unauthorized account transaction. Generally, what this means is that someone has stolen your debit card or they have somehow stolen the card number and have access to your checking account.
It is important to act quickly to protect yourself and to stop any further unauthorized charges. Follow these six steps if you find an unauthorized charge on your account.
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Contact Your Bank
The first step in any banking issue to contact your bank or financial institution. The bank will be able to tell you if the transaction was made from a debit card of if it was an ACH (electronic) transaction.
If it was a debit card or point of sale transaction, then you can just cancel your debit card. However, if it was an ACH transaction, you might need to close your account altogether. Your bank will be able to cancel a debit card over the phone, but you will need to head into a physical location to close your bank account. In the meantime, be sure to put a temporary freeze on the account so no other charges can happen.
Contact the Vendor
Next, you need to contact the vendor to begin the process of disputing the charge. Some vendors may work with you to press fraud charges and to generate a report that you can file with the police. It depends on where and when the charges were made.
However, if the charges have already been posted to your account, you may have to wait a couple of days for the dispute to go through and have the money credited back into your account. If you do check your transactions daily, you might be able to check the charge while it is still pending.
Dispute the Charge With Your Bank or Credit Card Company
To start the process of disputing a fraudulent charge, simply fill out a form online or provide some information about the charge to your bank or credit card company. Alternatively, you can head into your bank’s physical location and fill out a dispute form.
You have 60 days to dispute the charge formally. Still, it is important to act as quickly as you can, especially if you need the money that was taken out of your account. This is one reason why it is so important to balance your account to your bank statement on a regular basis. You can do this monthly or weekly.
File a Fraud or Police Report
Depending on how large of charges were made to your account and how often, you might need to also file a fraud report with your local police department. This shows the bank that you did not make the charges and can aid in clearing up your account.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will receive your money back any quicker but it is helpful. The police report aids in finding out whether or not the thief has also attempted identity theft. Be sure to save a copy of the police report on file.
Switch Your Bank Drafts to Your New Account or Card
If you decided to close your account to avoid any more fraudulent charges, you will need to switch everything that was direct deposited or automatically drafted from that account.
This includes any reoccurring payments that you have linked to your old bank account including gym memberships, streaming subscriptions, and bills. It is helpful, during this time, to have your automatic charges on your debit card so you can change them right away instead of having to deal with the charges bouncing back.
Monitor Your Account and Credit Closely
The last thing you want to do is to continue monitoring your account and 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 as well.
Putting a stop to any fraudulent charges early can prevent full on identity theft. So check your credit report every four months, and monitor your checking account daily to make sure no additional fraudulent charges appear after you’ve dealt with it.
Following these six steps will help you prevent any unauthorized transactions on your account and prevent identity theft. The biggest takeaway from this post is to contact your financial institution if you see any of these issues. Be sure to check out our list of bank guides and credit card bonuses!