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I was shopping for an uncommon item, found a site that claimed to sell it, and placed an order with my credit card (which went through Verified by Visa). Only afterward did I realize that this site is almost certainly not a legitimate storefront. (And only then did I realize that I had forgotten to use a virtual credit card number.)

Now I am checking the activity on my credit card every day.

Is there anything that I can preemptively do? Do I need to wait for an actual fraudulent charge to appear on my card before I can request a replacement?

  • Have you called your bank? – quid Mar 5 at 6:18
  • Not yet. That's basically my question: is there anything to be gained by calling my bank in advance? – jamesdlin Mar 5 at 6:31
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You can call your card's customer service and let them know of your suspicions. You can even request a new card number if you think it's worthwhile (I don't think a fraudulent charge is required for this -- you could have simply lost your card). However, it's important to be clear on what is fraudulent.

You provided your credit card number willingly, so that transaction would only be fraudulent if and when the site charges your card and fails to provide the item as agreed. (I take it they don't have an option to cancel your order.) You haven't clearly stated whether the expected charge for the purchase itself is showing in your card activity (and you're just watching for additional charges). A legitimate site typically charges your card when they ship the order. So the outcome will depend on how carefully they pretend to be legitimate.

As for other unexplained charges from this site or its shady associates (beyond what you authorized for this purchase), which are what you could have avoided by using a virtual number, those would be prima facie fraudulent and could be reported as such if and when they occur.

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    I would also say, if you have a second card, begin using it and moving any auto-bill charges to that card now. You'll want to have the minimum hassle if switching accounts becomes necessary. – pboss3010 Mar 5 at 12:41
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Is there anything that I can preemptively do?

You are... :)

Do I need to wait for an actual fraudulent charge to appear on my card before I can request a replacement?

You can request a new card at any time.

However, for two reasons I think that you should wait for actual fraudulent charges to be posted to your account before pulling the trigger:

  1. That's the only time when the bank can actually cancel the charges, and
  2. they might actually send you the stuff.
  • Not reporting a compromised card may mean the bank won't cover the charges. Most require reporting a compromise in a timely fashion. – ceejayoz Mar 7 at 3:31
  • @ceejayoz how did you interpret "you should wait for actual fraudulent charges to be posted" to mean "don't report a compromised card"? Not to mention that he doesn't know if the card is compromised. – RonJohn Mar 7 at 3:39
  • OP says they have reason to believe the site wasn't legit. The timer starts then, not with the first charge. Same thing if you lose your card - if you wait a month to report it and then someone uses it, you may be in hot water with your bank. (They may, among other things, be able to see the sudden uptick in checking balances.) – ceejayoz Mar 7 at 13:18
  • @ceejayoz OP believes it to be compromised. Waiting a few days to ensure that it's compromised is a Good Thing. – RonJohn Mar 7 at 15:28
  • Not if the bank says "you should've reported this when it happened; we're not responsible for that charge". Per the FTC, "Report the loss or theft of your card to the card issuer as quickly as possible" and "However, if you report the loss before your credit card is used, the FCBA says you are not responsible for any charges you didn’t authorize." If it's a debit card, it's even worse - OP has 48 hours to report or they're on the hook for up to $500 of fraudulent cards. – ceejayoz Mar 7 at 15:36

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