U.S. merchants and card issuers incur roughly $11 billion in annual credit and debit card losses as a result of fraud and issuers spend another 6.5 billion on fraud prevention measures. Consumers, on the other hand, are relatively shielded from the financial repercussions of payments fraud, as card networks give us $0 liability guarantees on credit card purchases and signature debit card transactions.
Lesser guarantees apply to PIN debit card transactions, however. But, regardless of whether you’re using a credit card or a debit card, the question of how to report and deal with potential fraud still remains. We’ll help answer that question and further analyze the repercussions of debit card fraud below.
No Liability For Signature Debits, But PINs & ATMS Aren’t As Simple
The level of fraud liability protection that you enjoy ultimately depends on what type of transaction you’re making. You’ll always benefit from a $0 liability guarantee for unauthorized signature debit card transactions. Rules for PIN debit card purchases and ATM transactions aren’t quite as straightforward, however. Protections in such instances depend on the card network your plastic belongs to (i.e. VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover) as well as how quickly you report the potential fraud.
- Signature Debit Transactions: All four major card networks offer $0 fraud liability guarantees.
- PIN Debit Card Transactions: VISA and MasterCard provide $0 liability guarantees for transactions processed on their respective networks (consumers have no way of knowing what network will be used). Otherwise, you get no protection above the federal limits. Only Discover offers a complete $0 fraud liability guarantee. (American Express does not offer PIN debit cards).
- ATM Withdrawals: For VISA and MasterCard ATM cards, protection above federal limits is at the discretion of the card issuer. American Express and Discover provide $0 liability guarantees.
- Federal Liability Limits: Federal law limits liability to $50 if you report fraud to the card issuer within two business days. Liability is limited to $500 if you report within 60 days, and no protection is provided thereafter.
7 Key Steps To Take After Detecting Fraud Or Losing Your Card
Step 1 – Call The Issuer: The first thing you should do if you’re convinced your debit card is lost, stolen or the subject of fraud is call the card’s issuer. The table below has both online and phone contact information for the 10 largest banks and 10 largest credit unions.
|American Express||1-800-528-4800||File a Report||Alliant Credit Union||1-800-328-1935||File a Report|
|Bank of America||1-800-732-9194||File a Report||America First Federal Credit Union||1-866-673-6571||File a Report|
|Barclays||1-302-622-8990||File a Report||Boeing Employees Credit Union||1-888-241-2510||File a Report|
|Capital One||1-800-427-9428||File a Report||First Technology Federal Credit Union||1-855-855-8805||File a Report|
|Chase||1–800–432–3117||File a Report||Navy Federal Credit Union||1-888-842-6328||File a Report|
|Citibank||1-800-950-5114||File a Report||Pentagon Federal Credit Union||1-800-556-5678||File a Report|
|Discover||1-800-347-2683||File a Report||SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union||1-800-462-8328||File a Report|
|HSBC||1-800-975-4722||File a Report||Security Service Federal Credit Union||1-888-415-7878||File a Report|
|PNC||1-888-762-2265||File a Report||Star One Credit Union||1-866-543-5202||File a Report|
|U.S. Bank||1-800-872-2657||File a Report||State Employees Credit Union||1-888-241-2510||File a Report|
|Wells Fargo||1-800-869-3557||File a Report||The Golden 1 Credit Union||1-855-345-8035||File a Report|
Your involvement in the case of the lost, stolen or fraudulent card does not end once you’ve called the card’s issuer. There are a number of additional steps you need to take in order to ensure you’re back to full financial strength.
Step 2 – Activate Your New Card: You should both sign the back of your card and either call the activation number provided – usually listed on a sticker on the front of the card – or follow the instructions for online activation.
Step 3 – Change Your PIN: If you’re concerned about potential fraud, it’s best to change your PIN to something completely new. Then just be careful about who you share it with.
Step 4 – Update Billing Information: If you use your debit card for recurring monthly bills, you’ll need to update your payment information in order to avoid penalty fees or a disruption of service.
Step 5 – Review Monthly Statements: You should closely examine monthly bank statements in the months after you get your new card – just so you don’t miss additional signs of fraud that may indicate your problem has not been solved.
Finally, if you are the victim of debit card fraud, you’ll want to minimize the chances of additional fraudulent transactions showing up on your account. This is a two-step process.
Step 6 – Revamp Your Defenses: From shredding documents and changing passwords to pulling and locking your credit reports, there are myriad measures you can take to better protect your personal finances. For the full list, check out our Identity Theft Protection Guide and use this unfortunate event as an opportunity to improve your financial management.
Step 7 – Identify Fraud’s Source: In short, you’ll want to retrace your steps in search of the source of your fraudulent transactions – perhaps a website or local restaurant. Simply stopping shopping there would be a quick and easy fix.
Ask The Experts:
Ask the Experts
Image: nobeastsofierce / Shutterstock