Fraud liability policy for debit and credit cardholders

Most banks offer “zero liability” debit cards which means you are not liable for fraudulent purchases made on your card but there is still a difference between debit card and credit card safety.

When shopping don’t get in a comfort zone and believe personal financial information is safe under your card’s zero-liability protection. Review the protections offered by the debit or credit card you use for shopping to make sure you are protected against fraud.

Here are a few basic facts about debit and credit card protections:

Debit cards: You may think you are covered when you find a suspicious charge to your debit card but think again. Stolen or lost debit cards must be reported within 2 business days to limit your liability to $50. If you take more than 2 days to report it, you can be liable for up to $500. If you discover fraudulent charges on your statement, but your card is in your possession, you must report the fraud within 60 days of receiving that statement. If you fail to do so, your losses could be unlimited.

Credit cards: You have the best possible protection against fraud when using a credit card. With credit cards, your maximum liability for fraudulent charges is $50 although in most cases that $50 is waived. Many issuers feature policies that exceed federal mandates. All cards issued through the Visa and MasterCard payment networks have zero liability policies that preclude account holders from having to pay even the $50 minimum on unauthorized transactions. American Express and Discover offer similar fraud protection guarantees. If the fraud involves a stolen account number and not the card itself, then you have no liability.

During the holiday season it might be a good idea to shop with a credit card instead of a debit card – it’s simply safer. But you also get the added benefit of an extended warranty, free of charge. All major credit cards provide some degree of warranty protection for items purchased with their cards. The usual benefit is to double the length of a manufacturer’s warranty for up to a max of one year.

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