From ordering groceries online to paying a pet sitter on Venmo, many of us rely on online transactions every day – but what happens when someone uses these platforms to access our financial accounts? Online shopping and app-based banking are easy and convenient for many people, but processing transactions online might make us more vulnerable to hackers accessing our finances. If you find a suspicious charge on your bank or credit card statement, here are steps you can take to restore secure banking and recover lost funds.
Step 1: Contact your bank.
Get in touch with your bank’s fraud department by calling your local branch or looking up this information online. If your bank accounts have had unauthorized withdrawals, banks will take immediate action and help get your money back. If your bank does not properly assist you in getting your money back, file a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Step 2: Contact all your credit card companies.
If the fraudulent activity occurred on a credit card, call your credit card’s fraud department- they will walk you through their process of disputing the charges and correcting your monthly statement. Even if you do not see fraudulent action on one or more of your credit cards, alert those card companies anyway. They will cancel and reissue new cards, because if a hacker already accessed one account, they may have access to more. Take some cash out from an ATM before cancelling your cards, because it may take 7-10 days to receive replacements.
Step 3: If you can trace suspicious activity to a reputable company’s app or website, contact that company’s fraud department.
If you want to use this business again in the future, contact the company’s fraud department to clear the unauthorized charges from your account. Many financial transaction apps like CashApp and PayPal can refund money and everyday ecommerce apps like Uber and InstaCart also have processes in place to dispute charges. But if you suspect the fraudulent charge occurred through an untrustworthy business, stop doing business with that company and let your credit card company dispute the charge for you.
Step 4: Contact your financial advising and investment firm.
While retirement and investment accounts with reputable institutions are much harder to hack than a credit card, it is a good idea to reach out to your financial advisor and investment firm to make sure your hard-earned investments are not compromised. And ask your advisor about their firm’s policy for unauthorized activity. Your advisor can contact the custodian’s fraud prevention department. For more information, contact our office at 410-715-9200.
Step 5: Set new passwords and pins for all online accounts.
If someone was able to access one of your online accounts, they may be able to access others that use the same or similar passwords. To keep your other accounts safe, change all your passwords. Since some people may have multiple accounts, start with your financial accounts, including:
- Checking and savings accounts
- All investment accounts, including retirement, non-retirement, HSAs, 529s, and more
- Investment and financial planning portals, and budgeting software
Step 6: Check your credit report.
If hackers opened credit cards or other accounts in your name they should appear on your credit report which can be accessed at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a report at IdentityTheft.gov.
Step 7: Tell your family and friends.
If you share bank accounts with any family members or regularly transfer money between friends, let them know that your accounts have been compromised so they can check their finances for suspicious activity.
Even though the world of online banking and purchases can sometimes result in fraudulent activity, having online access to our accounts and receiving notifications from apps that store our financial information can help us be alerted very quickly when suspicious activity does occur. Regularly checking bank and credit card statements can help you ensure that you are the only person spending your money, and its easiest to correct fraud if it is reported immediately.