How Do Credit Card Companies Investigate Unauthorized Charges

How Do Credit Card Companies Investigate Unauthorized Charges

Credit card fraud is an unfortunate reality that many people may have to face at some point in their lives. When unauthorized charges appear on your credit card statement, it can be a frustrating and stressful experience. However, credit card companies are well-equipped to handle these situations and have established protocols in place to investigate unauthorized charges. Here is an overview of how credit card companies investigate such incidents.

1. Notification: As soon as you notice an unauthorized charge on your credit card statement, it is crucial to report it to your credit card company immediately. Most companies have a dedicated hotline or online platform to report fraudulent activities.

2. Freezing the account: To prevent further unauthorized charges, credit card companies may temporarily freeze your account until the investigation is complete. This ensures that no additional fraudulent transactions can take place.

3. Gathering information: Credit card companies will ask for details about the unauthorized charge, such as the date, amount, and merchant involved. They may also request any supporting documentation you have, such as receipts or emails.

4. Reviewing transaction history: Credit card companies will thoroughly analyze your transaction history to identify any patterns or inconsistencies that may point to fraudulent activity. This includes reviewing your previous purchases and comparing them to the unauthorized charge.

5. Contacting the merchant: Credit card companies will often contact the merchant involved in the unauthorized charge to gather additional information or dispute the transaction. This helps in verifying the legitimacy of the charge and can aid in resolving the issue.

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6. Provisional credit: In some cases, credit card companies may offer you provisional credit while the investigation is ongoing. This means that they will refund the disputed amount temporarily, ensuring that you are not financially burdened during the investigation.

7. Resolving the issue: Once the investigation is complete, credit card companies will inform you of their findings. If the charge is deemed unauthorized, it will be permanently removed from your account, and any provisional credit you received will become permanent. If the charge is found to be legitimate, you will be responsible for paying it.


1. What should I do if I notice an unauthorized charge on my credit card statement?
Report it to your credit card company immediately by calling their fraud hotline or using their online platform.

2. How long does the investigation process take?
The investigation process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the case.

3. Will I be liable for unauthorized charges on my credit card?
No, you will not be held liable for unauthorized charges as long as you report them promptly.

4. Can credit card companies track the location of fraudulent transactions?
Yes, credit card companies can track the location of fraudulent transactions through the merchant’s information.

5. Can I dispute an unauthorized charge on my credit card after the investigation is complete?
Yes, you can dispute an unauthorized charge even after the investigation is complete if you believe there has been an error.

6. Will my credit score be affected by unauthorized charges?
No, unauthorized charges will not impact your credit score as long as you report them to your credit card company.

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7. Can I prevent unauthorized charges from happening?
While you cannot completely eliminate the risk, you can minimize it by regularly monitoring your credit card statements and using secure payment methods.