How to Use Credit Card Fraud Alert Notifications to Detect Fraud

Woman receiving a text message
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Early detection of credit card fraud is key to minimizing the damage a thief can do to your account. If your credit card is lost or stolen, your missing credit card would alert you to the fact that you need to contact your credit card issuer. Your creditor can cancel your account and issue a new credit card with a new account number to prevent fraudulent charges from being made on your account.

These days thieves can steal your credit card information, without ever touching your physical credit card, and still make fraudulent charges to your account.

Those charges are tougher to detect since your credit card never goes missing. Getting real-time fraud alerts from your credit card issuer would alert you of suspicious activity on your account and give you the opportunity to contact your credit card issuer to stop further unauthorized charges.

Why Plain Credit Monitoring Isn't Enough

You may have already signed up credit monitoring service that tells you when your credit report information has changed. However, this type of monitoring doesn't allow you to respond quickly enough to credit card fraud. That's because credit monitoring only alerts you when suspicious account activity shows up on your credit report, which may not be for a few days or even weeks. This delay in notification makes it difficult catch the fraud before it gets out of hand.

Plus, credit monitoring only alerts you to changes in your credit report, like a credit card balance increase.

This high-level reporting may not be enough to let you know when your credit card account has been compromised.

How to Sign Up Credit Card Fraud Alerts

Credit card fraud hurts credit card issuers as much — possibly even more — than it does consumers. It only makes sense that credit card issuers would offer more services to help cardholders detect and report credit card fraud.

To find out whether your credit card issuer offers fraud alert notifications, log into your credit card's online account or call your credit card's customer service (using the number on the back of your credit card). You'll have to follow these steps with each of your credit card issuers.

Each credit card issuer's website is different. Once you've logged into your account, look in the menu for a place to edit your profile or account settings. Then see the fraud notifications your credit card issuer offers.

You may be able to receive notifications via email, text message, or through a push notification at the top of your cell phone through the card issuer's smartphone app.

Your credit card issuer will likely give you a few options for receiving alerts. You may have the option of receiving alerts to transactions the credit card issuer deems suspicious. Or, you may be able receive alerts for transactions over a certain amount that you self-select, $10 for example. Opting to receive alerts based on a minimum transaction amount will allow you to catch fraudulent transactions your credit card issuer doesn't notice. Your credit card issuer can only detect fraud based on your typical spending habits.

You know for sure whether or not a transaction is fraudulent because you're the one using your credit card.

What to Do If You Receive a Fraud Alert Notification

If you receive a fraud alert from your credit card issuer, log in to your online account or call the number on the bank of your credit card to contact a customer service representative to confirm or deny the charges. Don't give out any personal or credit card information via text message. Don't click on any links within the text message. And don't call your card's customer service via any numbers listed in the text message. This is important just in case the text message is a phishing scammer trying to get your personal information or credit card details.

Credit card fraud alerts are a complimentary service offered by your credit card issuer.

You won't be charged any extra for the alerts. You are, however, subject to any text message charges or data charges from your cell phone carrier.

In addition to fraud alerts, your credit card issuer may be able to send you alerts for other types of account activity including: balance notifications, payment due date, available credit, or missed payment. These notifications can help you manage your credit card account more efficiently.

Of course, you should continue to monitor your credit card activity by logging into your account periodically between billings and reviewing transactions. You can never be too careful.