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How long does a credit card fraud investigation take?

Alex Ritchie avatar
Alex Ritchie
- 3 min read
How long does a credit card fraud investigation take?

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon nowadays to find yourself the victim of data theft and credit card fraud. Regardless of how the criminals found your information, you’ll want to get your life back to normal as quickly as possible.

So, how long does a credit card fraud investigation take? In general, it can take anywhere from 21 days to 90 days – depending on your card issuer.

Investigating credit card fraud

First of all, each institution will have its own process for investigating fraud. This means that the time it takes to resolve disputes can also vary, and it all depends on your card issuer. It’s worth checking with your card issuer how long they predict the process will take.

The time taken to credit money to your account may vary due to the type of dispute you’ve raised, and if the business that the transaction was made with decides to challenge your claim. Some card disputes are known to take up to 45 days.

If you notice the fraudulent activity…

  • Contact your bank immediately – Get in touch with your bank or credit card issuer. If your card has been compromised, the issuer should be able to lock or block it.
  • Contact the police – Credit card fraud is a crime, so it is important to contact the Police Assistance Line on 131444, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 (do not call 000 - this is reserved for emergencies only).
  • Report it to the ACCC – The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommends you advise them of any instances of scams or fraud to better protect members of your community.

It is crucial that you notify your bank or issuer immediately if you notice fraudulent activity, as it will be more likely to refund you the amount you have lost if done so promptly.

The process of investigating fraud:

If fraudulent activity has been identified on your credit card, whether by yourself or by your card issuer, the basic process will generally go as follows:

  1. Contact occurs: Either you will contact the issuer, or its fraud team will be in contact immediately. In Australia, the major banks have teams that monitor for fraud 24/7, making it easier to catch and prevent further losses.
  2. Accounts cancelled: The issuer will stop your cards, and any additional cards, from being accepted, and issue you a new card(s).
  3. Investigation request: You may be provided with a case number and asked to fill out a form, or provide more detail, about the transactions that are considered fraudulent. For Westpac, this is required within 14 days of receipt.
  4. Investigation occurs: The issuers investigation will commence. Depending on the issuer this may take anywhere from 21 days to 90 days to be resolved.

What you can do while you wait for the investigation to resolve

After you’ve notified the police and the ACCC, there are some additional steps you may want to consider following while you wait for your credit card fraud investigation to be resolved. 

Firstly, continue to monitor all your banking and credit accounts for unauthorised transactions and strange behaviour. This could be a sign that more than your credit card details have been compromised. 

You’ll then want to consider keeping an eagle eye on your credit scores and credit report. The Australian credit reporting bureaus should provide you with a copy of your report for free every three months. You can also view your credit scores with the major bureaus at any time with just the click of a button, thanks to RateCity’s Credit Score app.

Look for any instances of new, unauthorised credit products and debt being added to your report. If this occurs, you will need to notify the banks once again, and likely add this to your ongoing fraud investigation. It’s also important you notify the credit reporting bureaus about this activity so they may work to remove it from your file before it can damage your credit history or credit score. You may need to provide copies of police reports and investigation reports in this process.

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Product database updated 21 Jul, 2024

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.