Most credit card issuers tell you that they offer extraordinary fraud protection and that you will never be held responsible for unauthorized charges to your account. In real life, it often doesn't work out that way.
At Sherman & Ticchio, we speak to consumers all the time who are victims of identity theft and find fraudulent charges (sometimes amounting to tens of thousands of dollars or more) on credit cards issued by some of the biggest banks in the world. Instead of obtaining that white-glove fraud protection and receiving a fast refund of charges made by an identity thief -- in many cases obviously fraudulent charges -- too many people are told that the bank has conducted a thorough investigation and determined that the consumer either made the allegedly fraudulent charges or authorized them.
Often, by the time an individual calls our law firm, they have spent stressful months trying to convince the credit card issuer that there really was fraud committed by an identity thief. Ultimately, with guidance from our firm and strong disputes filed with the credit bureaus, some of these people are fortunate enough to have the credit card issuer acknowledge that charges to a Visa or Mastercard or American Express Card or Discover Card were, in fact fraudulent. The charges are deleted from their account and their credit reports corrected to remove charges that were not authorized. Many others are not as lucky, and we file lawsuits in federal court on their behalves under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
When dealing with a credit card issuer about fraudulent charges, there are some best practices we recommend.
First and foremost, take very careful notes BEFORE you call the credit card issuer so that you can explain exactly which charges are fraudulent and why. Did you lose your card? Were the fraudulent purchases made in person or online? Be prepared to tell the truth as you know it in a succinct and clear manner.
Second, take thorough and detailed notes each time you speak with the credit card issuer. Your calls are being recorded and you should know who you spoke to and what, specifically, was discussed.
If the representative tells you anything other than the charges will be reversed, ask to speak with a supervisor so you can build a strong record of what happened and so there are several witnesses for the credit card issuer that will hear your story. This can be important if you later find yourself in litigation.
Third, do not wait months or even weeks to contact a consumer attorney. Whether you call Sherman & Ticchio or another firm, you should seek professional guidance from credit lawyers who deal with these matters on an everyday basis.