If you check your transactions through your bank on a regular basis, you may find a transaction that you did not authorise. Usually, this is a sign that someone has stolen your debit card or they have somehow skimmed the number and have access to your bank account.
It is important to act quickly to protect yourself and to stop this situation from escalating out of control. Here are the steps you need to take in this situation, according to www.thebalance.com.
Contact your bank: The first thing you need to do is to contact your bank and find out more about the transaction. The bank should be able to tell you if the transaction was from a debit card. If it was a debit card or point of sale transaction, it may be enough to cancel the debit card. Your bank can cancel a debit card over the phone, but you may need to go in to finish closing up your account. Make sure they put a temporary freeze on the account so that further charges accrue while you are on the way to the bank.
Contact the vendor: Next, you will need to contact the vendor to begin disputing the charge. Some vendors may work with you to press fraud charges and to generate a report that you can file with the police. It depends on where the charges were made, and how long ago they were made. If they posted to your account, you may have to wait several days to have money credited to your account. If you check your transactions on a daily basis, you may be able to catch the charge while it is still pending.
Dispute the charge with your bank: Some banks may have this step done separately from calling to cancel the card or close your account. You may be able to dispute the charge by filling out a form online or you may have to go into the bank to complete the transaction. This depends on your bank’s current policy. You have sixty days to dispute the charge formally. Still it is important to act as quickly as you can, especially if you need the money that was taken out of your account. This is one reason why it is so important to balance your account to your bank statement on a regular basis. You can do this monthly or weekly.
File a fraud or police report: Depending on the number of charges made and the severity of the situation, you may need to file a fraud report with your local police department. This shows the bank that you did not make the charges and can help to clear up your account.
This does not mean that you will receive money back more quickly, but it is helpful to show to businesses that may not think they have done anything wrong.
The police report may also be necessary if you find out that the thief has attempted identity theft as well. It is important that you keep a copy of the police report on file in case you need it in the future.
Switch your bank drafts to your new account or card: If you close your account, you will need to switch everything that was directly deposited or automatically drafted from that account. This means changing the information for each of the services that you use. If it was just the debit card, then you need to switch the services that you signed up with your debit card. It is helpful to keep a list of the automatic charges on your debit card so you can change them right away instead of dealing with the charges bouncing back and having services cancelled on you. It will only take a few minutes per account to change them online. It may take longer if you have to change them on the phone or in person.
Monitor your account and credit closely
Finally, you need to continue to monitor your account and your credit report closely. If the user had direct access to your account and not just your debit card, you may want to put a temporary freeze on your credit report to add extra protection for yourself. It is important to put a stop to this before it turns into full-blown identity theft. Check a credit report every four months, and check on your account daily to make sure you are safe. It is a good idea to closely monitor your other accounts as well. It can be frustrating when you find out that your information was compromised, but it makes it that much more important to monitor your information in the future. You may also want to be careful about which sites you shop at and that you watch for credit card skimmers at ATMs and vending machines.
While balancing a paper cheque book may seem like a thing of the past, the principles behind this practice are as valid as ever. In addition to preventing overdraft fees and catching erroneous charges, properly reconciling your cheque book can also allow you to take a better look at your financial habits, according to http://www.money-rates.com.
Taking charge of your records
The key to managing a current account is keeping an accurate record of your deposits and withdrawals. When you get in the habit of writing down every amount that comes in or out of your current account, the process can start to feel routine – possibly even satisfying. Recording every transaction that occurs (or verifying it online) and calculating your balance regularly is by far the most reliable way of managing your chequing account.
Still, some may struggle to record every purchase on a piece of paper. If you are one of those people who has given up on that level of organisation, develop your own system for tracking your account. This will require keeping careful tabs on your approximate balance and making sure not to exceed it. Because you are not being as precise here, it may be helpful to mentally round up the amounts on your purchases to prevent overdrafts.
Account management tools
There are a lot of tools available for managing a current account that didn’t exist a few years ago. Online banking can give you instant access to your balance and spending records. It can also allow you to set up regular payments for recurring bills, withdrawing directly from your account on a predetermined schedule. Some online banking systems may even produce detailed reports on where you are spending your money, which can help you make adjustments to improve your spending habits.
But while technology can help you manage your account, it can also help you mismanage it if you are not careful. As useful as computers are, they still require careful input from you. There is still no substitute for diligence and accuracy when it comes to financial record-keeping.