I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I also hope your Black Friday wasn’t too hectic (if you participated). Compared to last year, in my opinion the deals this year really sucked, so I didn’t bother getting up before the crack of dawn to go wait in line. However I did make it out to the mall during the afternoon to take a gander and as expected, the sales were not impressive to say the least. I didn’t buy a single thing.
Black Friday: The Online Version
Meanwhile, many others were skipping the stores for another reason… they were doing black Friday online. In fact, since the beginning of the month there has reportedly been a 23% increase in online purchases (according to ReD payment processing). They also claim the increase in fraudulent online activity (or at least, attempted activity) will be 38% greater than last year. And of course virtually all of that involves debit and credit card fraud.
What To Do If You’re a Victim
Fortunately – at least in the United States – if someone uses your account to make fraudulent purchase, you probably won’t be responsible. Why do I say probably and not definitely?
For Credit Cards
Well, when it come to credit cards… you are definitely protected – under federal law, the maximum liability you have is $50. However, pretty much every bank and financial institution has chosen to make that $0 liability… so you really have nothing to worry about when it comes to your credit cards.
For Debit Cards
But debit cards are another story… you are most likely protected, but not always. Your maximum liability increases to $500 with debit cards. Usually banks will not hold you liable for any amount, but they have been known to hold customers liable for the maximum amount permitted by law… it’s extremely rare, but it does happen. PIN-based fraudulent transactions on your debit card are known to be harder to fight. However the biggest danger I feel is with the checking account your debit card is linked to. If a crook spends your money, your balance will drop (at least temporarily) until you detect the fraud. If you have outstanding checks, that may cause them to bounce.
(we have a credit card fraud help discussion board to assist victims)
The Safest Option?
The truth is you will probably not be held liable for debit card fraud if you detect it within a reasonable amount of time, so I wouldn’t worry about that. But as mentioned, the temporary drop in your checking account balance can pose a problem, especially if you use checks to pay your rent or mortgage. For that reason, I feel it’s safest to stick with credit cards.