How to Put a Fraud Alert or Flag on Your Credit Card Account

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Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Company

As soon as you realize that you've lost your card or cards, contact your banks and credit card companies to cancel your credit and debit cards. In the United States, the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) limits your liability to only $50 in unauthorized charges per card before your report it stolen. Still, you want to get your cards reported as soon as possible to avoid any liability. Your liability for unauthorized use of your debit cards is limited by a different law, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA). To limit your liability to only $50, you must report unauthorized use within two days, otherwise your liability can be high as $500 and you may even lose the entire balance of your account, plus your overdraft, if you fail to report the problem within 60 days.

Request a Security Freeze from the Credit Bureaus

Call each of the major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, and request a security freeze on your accounts. This will prevent a credit card thief from assuming your identity and opening new accounts in your name.

Monitor Your Credit Reports

Begin monitoring your credit reports. You can request a free copy of your credit report once every twelve months from each of the three major credit bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com. You can also order your credit reports directly from each bureau for a small fee. Some companies offer a credit report monitoring service that sends you an email alerting you of any changes to your reports. Review your reports for unfamiliar accounts or credit "inquiries" from companies that you don't recognize. If the security freeze is working properly, you shouldn't have any problems, but it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure that nobody is using your identity to open new accounts.

Continue to Monitor Your Accounts

Open and read all of your billing statements. If you find any unauthorized charges, contact your credit card company immediately by phone and follow up your call with a written letter, sent via certified mail disputing the charge.

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