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Several months ago, my credit card number was stolen and used to buy some airline tickets. My credit card company reacted very quickly to lock my account and alert me to the charges.

However, as I came to learn about this type of scam, the scammer generally buys and immediately refunds the tickets in order to sell them on third party sites to attempt to hide their trail. In our case, we reacted so quickly that we got the charges reversed before those refund transactions hit the account.

At the end of this, I found myself with about $3000 of money that doesn't belong to me credited to my account due to the double credit. I have called the credit card company and they have assured me they are aware and will correct it, but it has been 4 months now.

I know this isn't my money so I don't get to keep it, but how long do I have to wait and what can I do to get it resolved?

  • Are you asking when you can legally claim the money as your own? Is it hurting you that your account has a credit sitting there that might eventually disappear? – NL - Apologize to Monica Mar 1 '17 at 15:31
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    I don't expect that I ever get to claim it, but it would be interesting to know if there is such a "statute of limitations." I am planning on buying a house soon, and I'd just feel better about it having it resolved before we close, if possible. – Enkiduh Mar 1 '17 at 15:32
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    It would be interesting to know if eventually you can legally claim the money as your own? – NL - Apologize to Monica Mar 1 '17 at 15:33
  • Which is why I used quotation marks. I know that's not the correct term, but I didn't know what else to call it. – Enkiduh Mar 1 '17 at 15:34
  • If there is such a period of time (under whatever name), it would likely be different from state to state. – Brythan Mar 1 '17 at 16:39
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The credit card company isn't the one losing money here. It's the airline. The airline credited you back twice (once with the fraud report, once with the credit from the thief). Maybe you should call them if you want it resolved sooner. In any case, if/when they do come looking for their money, they will have the paperwork to prove that it belongs to them.

You can spend the money now and risk paying it back later, you can watch and wait, or you can be proactive and ask the airline to fix it. They may or may not care about that sum.

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    The CC company will look into it, surely. But only when their high-priority queue is done. This issue is not high priority, because it is not a loss for the company. Most financial companies [1] attach a "cost/revenue" tag on every actionable, and sorts the queue based on those values. - - - [1] Other sectors may do that too. Beyond the scope of this comment. – Mindwin Mar 1 '17 at 17:58
  • I am accepting this answer because as much as I like @deilliottg 's answer, the legality of it is somewhat murky. I am reluctant to contact this particular airline, as I have never had dealings with them and when I was researching the incident they did not have a good rating as a business, but it seems like the best course given the options. – Enkiduh Mar 2 '17 at 13:48
  • I should also note that the actual balance on the card is currently near zero. This is my best rewards card so I funnel all possible purchases through it for the cash back, but pay it off every month. So currently I am keeping the $3000 in reserve in my bank account to pay off this charge whenever it hits. – Enkiduh Mar 2 '17 at 13:50
  • @Enkiduh As long as you have the money handy to pay it off, I think you're prepared to deal with it. I doubt anyone here would say you haven't done your part to get it resolved if you have contacted the credit card company. – NL - Apologize to Monica Mar 2 '17 at 14:16
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As for what you can do, deposit the ~$3000 in an interest bearing account, and collect the interest on their money. When they finally ask for it back, you immediately pay them, but you keep the interest earned. Now it's in your interest for them to take as long as possible to ask for repayment and you've done nothing wrong.

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    "It's in your interest." Killing me. – BlackThorn Mar 1 '17 at 20:30
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    Couldn't help myself... – delliottg Mar 1 '17 at 20:49
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    @JAB It's hard to see what legal restrictions could be enforced. You don't need to withdraw $3000 from your credit card balance. Just keep using the card, let the balance go down over time, and put the money you would have paid to the CC company into a different account. The CC company doesn't have any right to demand that you maintain a credit balance at all, and certainly not one as big as $3000. While the balance is in credit there is no loan to pay off. Of course if the credit limit on the card is less than $3000, that may change the situation when the CC company do fix the problem – alephzero Mar 1 '17 at 21:00
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    @JAB seeing as this is pretty much how banks & loans work, I don't think there's a very high chance of this being illegal. – Riking Mar 1 '17 at 23:06
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    Agreed with @Riking. Since the amount in this case is $3,000, what if OP had $3,000 of their own money in the account? Who's to say what portion of that total $6,000 is being put into the interest bearing account? – krillgar Mar 2 '17 at 11:57

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