If you’ve ever detected transactions on your credit card statement that you did not authorize, you could be a victim of credit card fraud.
Your first reaction might be to file a police report and also alert your credit card issuer.
But what if your credit card fraud claim is denied? What can you do?
Credit card issuers do not always automatically extend credits or reverse transactions a cardholder claims to be fraudulent.
There could be a number of reasons they deny your fraud claim.
Why Your Fraud Claim Was Denied
If they feel like a transaction was legitimate or that you benefited from the transactions, they will be inclined to question the veracity of your fraud claims.
After all, they do not want you to receive “free” goods and services at their expense.
An unauthorized claim where you were a beneficiary
For example, an identity thief could use all your correct information to order something online and have it delivered to your actual address.
However, the thief could try to intercept the package before it reaches you. But what if they fail and you get the package instead?
In this case, your “accidental” interception of the order might be a red flag to the credit card company.
Because you end up receiving the product thinking it is an order you actually placed, you might open it before realizing that you never placed the order and the transaction is fraudulent.
If you orderly packages regularly, let them pile up or sit awhile, another issue is that you don’t find about the rogue transaction and package delivery for days or even weeks.
Again, this could look like a routine order to your credit card issuer — making them less likely to grant your request to reverse the fraudulent transaction.
Others you know were beneficiaries
Another problem could be that they believe the transaction(s) was authorized by you by giving someone access to your credit card in some way.
An example of this would be allowing a friend or family member to use your credit card, but you suddenly decide transactions made by the person are fraudulent.
Trying to trick the system
Finally, if you have too many claims over a certain period of time. Credit card issuers may suspect that you are you trying to game the system to get out of paying for transactions that you authorized in some manner.
You should also know that it’s important to report fraudulent transactions using the proper methods.
Disputing a transaction from a merchant is a wholly different thing from reporting a fraudulent charge made by an identity thief.
Be sure to use the proper protocols for claims that involve billing errors, quality issues versus actual fraud.
This will improve your chances of having your fraud claim reviewed by the correct department and, subsequently, approved.
Did You Submit the Necessary Documentation?
So what do you do if you follow all the rules, do what you’re asked and your credit card claim is still denied?
First, you should know that if there is not enough information that supports your claim of credit card fraud, your claim could be denied.
So, be sure to ask about the required documentation the card issuer will accept to corroborate your fraud claim.
Ask them to be very specific when it comes to documentation requirements so you will have them available for filing both a claim and, if need be, an appeal.
Make sure that you gather any evidence such as police reports, information that backs up your whereabouts when the fraudulent transaction occurred or anything else you can think of that shows there was truly unauthorized activity on your credit card.
1. Appeal the Decision
Once you receive the news that your credit card fraud claim is denied, you are entitled to an explanation of exactly why your claim has been denied.
You may be alerted to the reason why your claim has been denied within the denial correspondence from your card issuer, so read it to get as much information as you can.
You should also receive information on how to appeal the denial.
If this information is not included in the denial correspondence, you should be able to call your card issuer, send a letter (or email) requesting information on the appeal process or log into your online banking portal for more information on appeals.
2. Escalate Your Appeal
You can escalate your case by asking to speak with a customer service supervisor.
Once you speak with a supervisor, it would not be a bad idea to record your interaction so that you have a record of your conversation along with any recommendations or instructions given to you by the supervisor.
You should inform the person you are speaking with that you are recording the call.
This way, if there's any question as to whether or not you followed instructions regarding claims or appeal protocols, you have recorded proof of your conversation with the card issuer representative.
Another option you have is to threaten to close your credit card account.
You can also threaten to close other accounts you might have with the bank, too.
This will trigger the customer service representative to put you in contact with a customer retention representative whose sole job is to keep you from closing your account.
Customer retention specialists may offer to waive fees, give you more rewards bonuses or anything else that might entice you to remain a customer of the bank.
This would be a good opportunity to talk about your appeal and how having it approved would make you more likely to remain a customer.
3. File a Complaint
If your appeal is denied with the credit card issuer, you still have recourse with a consumer watchdog organization known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB.)
The CFPB maintains a consumer complaint database.
Not only is this information available for consumers to peruse as needed, it's also sent directly to companies whose are the subject of these complaints.
The idea is that these companies will either remedy individual situations, revise their dealings with consumers or have a level of oversight from a disinterested party such as the CFPB.
The ideal outcome is that all three things happen. According to the CFPB, 97% of complaints receive a timely response. The average response time cited by the CFPB is around 15 days.
You can use this form on the CFPB website to file your complaint with the credit card issue that has denied both your credit card fraud claim and the related appeal.
The CFPB website advises you to have information such as dates, amounts and other details surrounding your complaints.
You should also be able to attach documentation such as billing statements, correspondence or police reports to the complaint form.
The CFPB site also warns that you should be as thorough as possible when submitting information surrounding your claim because you cannot submit a second complaint about the same issue.
Once your complaint is entered into the database, the CFPB will forward the complaint and related documents to the company in an attempt to get a response from them within 15 days.
4. Take Legal Action
If, after your appeal and your complaint submission to the CFPB, the credit card issuer still does not reverse fraudulent transactions on your credit card, you may have to take legal action.
This can be extremely time-consuming and costly.
You will have to evaluate whether or not you feel it's worth it to spend money on legal counsel without knowing, for sure, if the outcome will restore any money you lost due to fraud.
For large amounts of money, it may be worth it to engage a lawyer.
For smaller amounts of money, it may not be worth your time.
Many times, your attorney can reach out to companies and request to negotiate outside of court proceedings. So don't think that you have to go to court in order to get this resolved.
If you speak with an attorney, they should be able to let you know whether or not they think it is worth your time to retain their services or file suit against your credit card issuer.
Yes, you may be past the point of wanting advice on preventing credit card fraud.
However, you still made benefit from this information so that you can continue to protect your identity against fraudsters.
Set up account alerts
One thing you can do is monitor your credit accounts.
The best way to do so is by setting up account alerts to notify you once balances exceed a certain amount of money or when purchases are made.
Review monthly activity
Make sure that you review monthly statements and check them for errors, too.
This also means taking a quick peek at your online account from time to time too.
If you suspect there is fraudulent activity, don't wait to report it. If possible, report it immediately. That includes getting a police report and reporting it to your credit card issuer.
Sign up for delivery notices
Finally, another thing you can do is set up shipment alerts.
Thieves may use a different email and phone number but still use your verified address for a fraudulent online purchase.
Many retailers that sell expensive items will often require that the shipping address match the billing address, which is tied to the card.
This is a reason that a fraudster is sending unauthorized purchases to your address.
Sometimes, thieves try to reroute the package. Or, they will wait at your address in an attempt to intercept the delivery of the package.
Being a victim of credit card fraud is definitely a terrible experience that most people can do without. Having your credit card fraud claim denied by the card issuer makes it even worse.
However, don't be discouraged with denials or outcomes that you're not happy with when it comes to identity theft and fraud.
With a little bit of research, tenacity, and follow-through you may receive a favorable decision after all.