What should you do if you’re a victim of fraud? It can be both scary and overwhelming to learn that someone has gained access to your credit card or bank account, or that someone has stolen your identity. Because of the stress you feel, you may not understand which steps to take and how you can work with your credit union to recover after a financial fraud.
At Leaders Credit Union, we care about your money and protecting your finances, so we’ve created this guide to help you understand how your credit union can help you if you’ve been a victim of fraud, and which steps to take to get on the road to fraud recovery as quickly as possible.
How Can I Identify Fraud on My Account?
Let’s start with how to recognize fraud, since some people may not know which signs are indicators of fraud.
You’ll have the best chance of catching fraudulent activity if you review your accounts regularly. Your bank account, credit card, and debit card may all be potential targets. We suggest reviewing your activity and flagging anything you don’t recognize–even if it’s a small transaction.
Reviewing your most recent account activity on a weekly basis will minimize your risks and allow you to catch unusual activity quickly, before serious damage is done.
How Can I Work with My Credit Union to Resolve Fraudulent Activity on My Account?
Credit union fraud protection can help you to resolve fraudulent activity as quickly as possible. Here are the steps to follow if you have been a victim of fraud.
#1: Report the Suspicious Activity to Your Credit Union
The first step is to report fraud to your credit union as soon as you discover it. There are many ways that your credit union can protect you, but they can’t do it unless you inform them of the fraud. Leaders Credit Union members should call Member Services at 731-664-1784, and we will work with you to take the necessary steps to help you recover.
#2: Discuss Immediate Protections
Your credit union can take immediate steps to make sure that no further credit card fraud or fraudulent account activity takes place. For example, they can cancel your compromised credit card and issue a new one. If you’ve experienced checking account fraud, they can put a fraud alert on your account.
#3: Ask for the Next Steps to Take
You should ask your credit union representative which steps to take next after you report the fraudulent account activity that has occurred. These steps may include the following:
- Notifying the three main credit bureaus. If you’ve been a victim of fraud, you’ll need to notify Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion of the fraud. They can place a fraud alert on your account and help you dispute any fraudulent activity.
- Placing a credit lock or a credit freeze on your account. When you contact the credit bureaus, you have the option of putting a credit freeze or credit lock on your account. Both options will prevent people from using your Social Security Number to obtain new credit cards or loans. A freeze is free, while a credit lock is a product sold by the credit bureaus.
- Notifying your credit card issuer. You may have credit cards that weren’t issued by your credit union. If that’s the case, you should contact them to let them know that your personal information may have been compromised.
- Filing a police report. Fraud is a crime, so it makes sense to file a report with your local police. They may not be able to catch the person who perpetrated the scam or fraud, but you’ll be on record and they may be able to help.
- Notifying the Federal Trade Commission. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you should file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. You can find more information on their website.
Taking these steps will put the fraud on the record, help authorities find the criminal responsible for the fraud, and help your financial institution protect you.
Can My Credit Union Help Me in Recovering Any Lost Funds Due to Fraud?
One of the biggest concerns that victims of fraud have is recovering lost funds. That’s understandable and your credit union can help you take the steps necessary to recover your funds.
The first thing you should know is that there are consumer protections in place that limit your liability if someone uses your credit or debit card without your authorization. The Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liability to a maximum of $50 for unauthorized credit card transactions, but many credit card issuers offer zero liability protection.
The same is true for fraudulent debit card transactions. The Electronic Fund Transfer Act limits losses to $50 provided that you notify your financial institution within two days of the card being lost or stolen.
If you still have your card but someone stole your card number, the rules are a little different. You'll have 60 days after your credit union sends your transactions statement for you to review the fraudulent activity to report it. If you wait longer than that, you may be liable for unauthorized transactions that occurred after the 60 day reporting period.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, your credit union has 10 business days to investigate any fraudulent activity (20 days if the account has been open less than 30 days) and one business day to correct any errors that they identify.
How Can I Stay Informed About the Latest Fraud Prevention Measures Recommended by My Credit Union?
The best way to protect yourself is to stay abreast of all fraud protection measures that your credit union offers, and take advantage of every means to shield your accounts and money. Here are some of the protections that your credit union may offer.
The first option you should ask about is two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA. You are likely familiar with this protection even if you don’t know its name. With 2FA, you must verify your identity in more than one way to gain access to your account.
The two most common 2FA options are a biometric scan, usually a fingerprint, or a texted code that you must enter to verify your identity. The benefit of engaging two-factor authentication is that it makes it far more difficult for someone to access your accounts because they won’t have your fingerprint or your phone to get the texted code.
Push notifications are notifications that are sent directly to your phone or appear as a pop-up in your internet browser. Many financial institutions allow account holders to sign up for push notifications that alert them of large transactions or suspicious activity.
For example, you might be able to sign up to get a push notification for any credit card or debit card transaction over an amount you specify. That way, you’ll know if there’s a fraudulent charge and you can notify your credit union immediately.
A lot of credit unions and banks offer fraud monitoring services, which typically use an algorithm to flag unusual transactions. What’s considered “unusual” may vary, but typical examples would include the following:
- A high-dollar transaction
- A transaction in a strange city or country
- An online transaction that looks suspicious
You’ll receive an email or text about the suspicious activity and be prompted to either verify it or report it.
One of the ways we protect Leaders Credit Union members is by providing them with a way to notify us if they’re traveling. You can do it by filling out an online form or using our mobile banking app.
By notifying us ahead of time, you can avoid receiving unwanted or blocked card notifications while continuing to be protected against attempted fraud.
Leaders Credit Union has a mission to help our members pursue their financial dreams while providing them with the tools and information they need to protect their money. One of the best ways to stay abreast of what your credit union is doing to protect you is to read their blog and pay attention to any email or text communications you receive.
In addition to our blog, we offer additional resources for our members. Our podcast, Pocket Change, offers bi-weekly discussions about financial literacy, including tips for saving money to buy a house, planning a family vacation, or investing in your community. We also offer an array of free calculators and other tools that you can use to manage your money and make your financial dreams into realities.
Finally, you may want to take advantage of any financial counseling or financial advisory services provided by your credit union. Working with an advisor can help you learn how to protect your money–and we’re not just talking about fraud. Your advisor can help you manage your risk, balance your investment portfolio, and make smart choices about your financial future.
Protect Your Money with Leaders Credit Union
If you’ve been a victim of fraud, working with your credit union is the best way to recover. Your credit union representatives can help you to identify and remove fraudulent charges, correct errors, and take the necessary steps to protect yourself going forward.
As a credit union that values your financial dreams and security, Leaders is committed to helping you outsmart fraudsters. Download our Ultimate Fraud Prevention Help Kit here and stay one step ahead!
Report Scams to the FTC
If you were scammed or think you saw a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.