Debit vs. credit cards: Which is safer to swipe?
While the tens of millions of Target shoppers who had their credit and debit card information stolen likely won’t be on the hook for any fraudulent transactions that may occur, debit card users could face much bigger headaches than credit card users.
By Melanie Hicken @melhicken
That’s because debit and credit cards are treated differently by consumer protection laws. Under federal law, your personal liability for fraudulent charges on a credit card can’t exceed $50. But if a fraudster uses your debit card, you could be liable for $500 or more, depending on how quickly you report it.
“I know people love their debit cards. But man oh man, they are loaded with holes when it comes to fraud,” said John Ulzheimer, credit expert at CreditSesame.com, a credit management website.
Related: 4 things to do after your credit card has been hacked
Plus, if someone uses your credit card, the charge is often credited back to your account immediately after it’s reported, Ulzheimer said.
Yet, if a crook uses your debit card, not only can they drain your bank account, but it can take up to two weeks for the bank to investigate the fraud and reimburse your account.
“In the meantime, you might have to pay your rent, your utilities and other bills,” said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The organization recommends that consumers stick to credit cards as much as possible.
Related: How not to get hacked
Whichever card you decide to swipe, here are ways to protect yourself from scammers.
Be vigilant with your accounts: The Target (TGT) hack is just the latest in a long history of data breaches, and it likely won’t be the last.
As a result, you should check your debit and credit account activity at least every few days and keep an eye out for any unfamiliar transactions. If you notice anything fishy, notify your bank or credit card company immediately.continue reading »