Fraud follow up is the last component of the 3 step process for protecting ourselves from identity theft. The first step was blocking information flow to restrict companies’ ability to make business decisions which require certain personal information, and, the second step in the identity protection process was monitoring account activities through system alert features, automated monitoring warnings, and statement reviews. After we successfully prevent the use of our stolen identity components, and monitor various notifications and information to detect fraud, we have to promptly follow up on fraudulent transactions to minimize damage.
As we diligently review various account activities by paying attention to alert notifications received from banks, other accounts, and credit monitoring services, or by going over periodic account statements online or offline, we may come across transactions which we do not recognize and therefore we must take the necessary actions to investigate, dispute and clear them for good. When we first notice an unauthorized activity, we must take immediate actions. Even a slight doubt about whether or not we initiated the transaction should at least make us take the next steps for finding out more. It is possible that we don’t remember a transaction or a previously scheduled payment which is OK for as long as we take to necessary steps to clear these items. Therefore, if we assess that a change alert relates to a consumer credit report, credit card account or our bank account, we must promptly contact the appropriate party to inquire about or dispute the transaction. We must always record the nature of our discussions like name of the person, date, time, and conclusion of our discussions. If we assess that the transaction is related to fraud, we then must report the case to the appropriate authorities like the police department and keep all official documents until the case is resolved. We must also work with the affected organization to identify the next steps to prevent further damage such as replacing the old credit card with the new one. Sometimes, when you dispute a particular transaction, the credit card company may just credit you for that transaction until their investigation is complete without replacing the existing card. This is not very productive for the bank because if the fraud appears to have occurred using a counterfeit card, it is almost predictable and expected to see additional fraudulent charges soon and therefore when fraud involves counterfeit physical cards at the point of purchase, it’s in the bank’s best interest to cancel and replace the card immediately but unfortunately this is not what happens sometimes which causes more fraud charges and losses for the bank, and, requires more customer follow up. Each fraud case may require slightly different steps to resolve which may include contacting the merchant, the bank, or credit reporting agency. The worst thing to do when we are not sure about a transaction is nothing. Any timely fraud follow up action beats non-action or delayed action, and sometimes we may have to call multiple parties until our case is resolved but it’s all worth it at the end as fraud responsibility shifts to consumers as time passes and no action is taken.