What You Should Do When Fraudulent Bank Charges to Your Account Appear
After noticing something is wrong, if your bank has not called you to verify odd charges, call them! Immediately! It does not matter if it is an online bank; most all have a fraud department. Your card number or banking credentials are out there in the world, all alone, and the first thing you must do is have access to the account stopped. If the bank charges were made on a debit card, the card should be cancelled, and a new one issued. If the actual account details were compromised, then the entire account should be closed right away, and a new one established. The new one will have new numbers assigned to it. Don't worry about direct deposit, the bank makes sure it makes it to your new account until you can change it with your company. All this being done, it's time for step two.
If the fraudulent bank charges were made online, save and print any emails that may have been sent to your account. Do not click on any links, just in case it is a phishing attempt. Also print out your bank statement that shows the charges being applied to you. Online banks are great for this step, as everything you do is recorded in near-real time. You will need any physical evidence you can gather for step three.
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File a Police Report
No, this isn't going to ensure the guilty parties are apprehended, although sometimes they may be. This is going to support step four in providing a concise report to your bank of an actual crime. Filing a report requires you visit your local police station, but the actual filing is very short and costs nothing. You will be provided a copy with a case number, which you will use in step four.
Visit the Bank
With all of your evidence and police report in hand, it's time to stop by the bank and file the bank's version of the police report. This is critical, in that this ensures the bank will refund your account, and make you whole. They will gather all of the information, while you fill out some paperwork and sign that it indeed is fraudulent, and be on your way. They even give you some helpful tips and tools on how they can help you prevent account fraud in the future. If you happen to have an online bank, some of this may require filing out documents and faxing or scanning them; some may ask for signatures or even a notarized emblem.
Within 2-3 days, your money should be refunded to you in the new account, and you will receive your new debit cards. After this, change all email and banking account passwords, and check your computer for spy-ware and malware. The most important thing you can do during this is remain calm and take care of business.
Complete these steps within one business day, if possible, and there's a good chance they may be able to locate the guilty party. There's also a good chance they won't. That's not your concern. Remember, it's not IF this is going to happen to you, it's WHEN. Focus on what to do to fix it, rather than how to over-zealously avoid it. Most times, no matter what you do, this can still happen.
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