When you realize that someone has been using your card without your permission, it's natural to want to track down the criminal and see that they face consequences for their actions. How often do credit card frauds get caught, though? Is there a good chance that the thief who stole your information will be brought in by law enforcement?
The answer is fairly complex, as there are a number of factors that can influence whether credit card thieves are ever caught. These include how sophisticated the criminals are, the type of fraud that was committed, and more.
Let's take a closer look at what you need to know about credit card fraud and how this type of crime is investigated.
When an unauthorized individual gains access to your credit card information and makes purchases with that information, they are committing credit card fraud.
There are a number of different ways that fraudsters can get a hold of your personal financial info, including:
Whether someone physically has your credit card or has virtually accessed your credit card information, being a victim of credit card fraud can mean you incur unauthorized charges and damage your credit score.
In our increasingly digital world, there are a number of different ways that criminals can gain access to your credit card information. By learning about the different ways that your credit card can be used by crooks, you can help protect yourself from credit card fraud.
A fraudster doesn't need to have your actual credit card in hand in order to do damage. When an individual or entity uses your card information without actually having access to your card, it's known as card-not-present fraud.
This type of fraud can be carried out through the mail, over the phone, or online. In 2022, more than $5 billion in losses occurred in the U.S. due to card-not-present fraud alone.
Another method used to gain access to your credit card information is card skimming. Criminals will place devices on unattended card readers, such as gas pumps, ATMs, or point-of-sale terminals. These devices, known as "skimmers," steal the information on a credit card and give thieves what they need to create fraudulent copies of your card.
It is estimated that more than $1 billion every year is lost due to credit card skimming.
Skimmers are designed to be difficult to spot, so you'll want to take extra precautions when you are using an unattended payment terminal or card reader.
Here are some of the ways you can identify card skimmers before you put your card in the slot:
When someone commits fraud or other crimes using your personal information, it's known as identity theft. There were almost 1.4 reports of identity theft in the U.S. in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Have you been the victim of identity theft? Check out my guide to repairing your credit after identity theft and fraud.
Phishing occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as account numbers or passwords, by tricking you into thinking they are contacting you from a reputable organization. This can occur through email or other messages.
Once they gain access to your private info, they might gain access to your accounts themselves or sell your account information to other criminals.
Even though there are a number of ways a fraudster can gain access to your credit card account without ever physically possessing your card, you also need to be concerned about your credit card being stolen or lost.
If your credit card is missing or you think it might have been stolen, you'll want to call the card issuer right away. The quicker you act, the less likely someone else will have the opportunity to use your card to make unauthorized purchases.
Are you trying to boost your financial literacy when it comes to being a responsible cardholder? Check out my articles about whether opening a new card increases your credit score, guaranteed approval credit cards, and getting a credit card before buying a house.
Another type of credit card fraud is known as an account takeover attack. This is when a criminal gains access to your online accounts with the intent to generate fraudulent transactions or otherwise seek to profit.
Criminals who are involved in account takeover fraud will often purchase private information on the dark web. This information can come from a number of different places, but a prime source is data breaches. In 2020 alone, more than 300 million individuals were impacted by publicly reported data breaches.
Fraudsters will also sometimes use malware, phishing, or other methods in order to get a hold of your info. Once they have one set of usernames and passwords, they might try to log in to other accounts using the same information.
Account takeovers don't put your credit card accounts at risk. Here are just a few of the things that criminals can do with access to different types of accounts you may have:
In order to minimize the damage that criminals can do with your credit card information, early detection is essential. If you aren't diligently checking your accounts and credit report, it's possible for fraud to go undetected for a long period of time.
Once you let your credit card issuer know that there have been unauthorized transactions made using your account, they will typically close the card and issue you a new one. At the same time, they will begin a fraud investigation.
There are a number of things that this type of investigation can consist of, including:
Are you wondering whether a small unauthorized transaction will actually be pursued by the cops? Take a look at my guide to whether credit card theft under $500 is investigated by law inforcement.
If you've been the victim of credit card fraud, it's natural to wonder what the chances are that the criminal wreaking havoc on your finances will be caught.
Unfortunately, the truth is that credit card fraudsters are not often caught. According to some estimates, law enforcement agencies only solve less than 1% of all credit card fraud cases.
Though this is fairly disturbing information, the truth is how likely it is for a fraudster to get caught will depend on the type of fraud that was committed. For example, if someone physically stole your card and you believe you know who is responsible, the chances of the thief being caught are much greater than if an unknown actor accessed your information virtually.
Similarly, if a criminal uses a stolen credit card in a brick-and-mortar store, a clerk might notice something suspicious and call the cops. At the end of the day, though, if you don't know the person who committed the crime, you may not ever find out who they are, and they may never face legal repercussions.
There are a number of different factors that influence whether or not a fraudster is caught for their criminal activity, including:
The truth is that criminals stealing credit cards and other personal information can be quite sophisticated. Through the use of advanced technology and anonymous services, it can be very difficult to pinpoint exactly who is committing the crime.
Another reason that credit card thieves aren't often caught is that consumers don't always bother to file a police report. Instead, they contact their credit card issuer or financial institution. Even though an investigation will be launched by the issuer, if the transaction amount isn't high enough they might not file a police report. These types of financial institutions typically have insurance that helps them to cover the loss.
Finally, even if you do report the case to law enforcement, they might not have any success catching the criminal. Smaller fraud cases might sit on the sidelines due to higher-priority cases and limited resources. If there aren't any strong leads in a case, the truth is that police might not dig very deep to try and find the thief.
Credit card companies will investigate fraud when you report that there has been suspicious activity or unauthorized transactions on your account. In some cases, the issuers will alert you when activity occurs on the account that seems unusual.
The credit card company will typically look at the following when trying to determine whether or not fraud took place:
Credit card issuers might decide to contact law enforcement if they find there is a fraudulent charge or several fraudulent transactions. However, this is more likely if the loss resulting from the fraud that was committed was substantial. If they believe the fraud to be a part of a larger pattern, such as a part of a national fraud ring, they will be more likely to report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
There is no simple answer to this question. The unfortunate reality is that many credit card thieves are never caught. However, in a situation where you believe you know who is responsible or there is a trail of evidence leading to the criminal, your chances are much greater that they will face the consequences of their actions.
Are you wondering what types of consequences a credit card fraudster will face if they are caught? Check out our post about whether credit card fraud is a felony and what the punishment is for the crime.
Credit card fraud is one of the most common types of fraud in the United States. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were almost 390,000 credit card fraud reports in the year 2021.
If you believe you've been the victim of credit card fraud, you can follow this link to report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
A forecast released by the Nilson Report in the winter of 2022 found that card fraud will likely lead to more than $165 billion dollars in losses over the next decade. In 2022 alone, more than $5 billion was lost to just one type of credit card fraud-- card-not-present fraud.
Behind fraud involving government documents or benefits, credit card fraud was the second most common kind of identity theft in 2021 in the U.S.
Reports of credit card fraud and debit card fraud have been on the rise for years. It's estimated that global fraud losses that are related to either debit or credit cards will reach a whopping $47.22 billion by the year 2031.
When you look at the numbers on credit card fraud in the U.S., it's easy to start feeling pretty nervous about your physical card or your card information being used by bad actors.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from credit card fraud. Here are some of the steps you can take to keep yourself safe from financial harm due to credit card fraud and identity theft:
Going the extra mile when it comes to protecting yourself from credit card fraud could mean you avoid dealing with the headaches of being an identity theft victim. Here are a few more things you can do to keep yourself safe from credit card fraud:
If someone used your card information fraudulently, it can be pretty disturbing to realize that these criminals aren't often caught. However, the likelihood that the thief will actually be tracked down by law enforcement goes up quite a bit if you know who they are or if they left a trail of evidence during their crimes.
When it comes to credit card fraud, the good news is that you can seriously limit the damage it causes you by monitoring your credit reports and accounts regularly. Beyond that, by taking steps to protect your credit card information, there are a number of things you can do to prevent credit card fraud from ever occurring.
Finally, even if you do end up becoming a fraud victim despite your efforts, early detection, and swift action can ensure you aren't the one footing the bill for unauthorized transactions made by criminals.
Are you on a journey to build credit and clean up your credit report? Make sure you check out our Credit Building Tips blog for more guides, articles, and resources to help you along the way.