Holding credit & debit cards is a virtual necessity these days.
In case your credit card is used without your knowledge, you may be responsible for up to $50 in charges per Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stipulations. In case of lost or stolen cards, if you report the loss before the card is used in any fraudulent transaction, you cannot be held responsible for any unauthorized charges.
When reporting a loss of the card or fraudulent transaction, use the card-issuing company’s toll-free numbers that are answered round the clock. In addition, a follow up via email or a letter is advised. This should include your account number and the date you noticed the card missing/came to know of any fraudulent attempt to use your card.
In the case of debit cards, liability gets a little riskier. It generally depends on whether the card was lost or stolen or is still in your possession, the type of transaction, and when you reported the loss or unauthorized transaction.
According to the FTC, if you report a missing debit card before any unauthorized transactions are made, you are not held responsible for the unauthorized transactions. If you report a card loss within two business days after you learn of the loss, your maximum liability for unauthorized transactions is $50.
If you report the card loss after that time but within 60 calendar days of the date your statement showing an unauthorized transaction was mailed, liability can jump to $500. Finally, if you report the card loss more than 60 calendar days after your statement showing unauthorized transactions was mailed, you could be liable for all the funds taken from your account.
If you notice an unauthorized debit card transaction on your statement, but your card is in your possession, you have 60 calendar days after the statement showing the unauthorized transaction is mailed to report it and still avoid liability.
A few simple steps can help mitigate the risk that you will be held liable for unauthorized use of your credit & debit card. Carry only those cards you need, and destroy the old ones. Do not provide your card details over the phone or online to unauthorized callers/websites.
While choosing a PIN, ensure it is not easily guessable and memorize it. For online accounts, make sure you scan the transactions at least once a week. If you notice a transaction not initiated by you, report it to your credit card issuer or company right away.
Maintain a list of important numbers and information relating to your cards separate from the cards themselves. This will make it easier to report a missing card / suspicious transaction quickly.