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Stolen Credit Card or Fraudulent Charge-What Should You Do?

  • Published
  • By Major Scott A. Hodges
  • Air Force Chief of Legal Assistance
If your credit card has been stolen you need to first call the police. If you suspect that someone has illegally used your account number, send the card issuer a letter that includes your name, account number(s), and the challenged charges. You should explain why you believe the charge is fraudulent and include any evidence you have, such as a police report.

The credit card company should list a "billing error address" on your monthly statement. You must direct your letter to that "billing error address," and it must reach the creditor within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you. The best practice is to send your letter by certified mail, with a return receipt requested, so that you have proof that the letter was received.

If you decide to call the card issuer for faster action, use the special numbers that many card issuers list on their billing statements, but follow up your phone call with a letter. Only a written letter protects your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).

What rights does the FCBA provide? The card issuer must acknowledge receipt of your letter or correct the error within 30 days. If they don't initially make the change, they must investigate and either correct the mistake or justify the charges within two billing cycles or 90 days, whichever is less. You may be asked to sign a statement under oath that you did not make the purchase(s) in question.

For more information about your credit rights visit the AF Legal Assistance website,, and then contact your nearest legal assistance office.