January 4, 2014
Ways to keep your credit card and debit card information safe from hackers: CardHub.com
The impact of a massive security breach at Target could reverberate at the retailer for some time to come. Though credit card users typically aren't held liable for any unauthorized charges, here are tips on using your cards safely.
The impact of a massive security breach at Target could reverberate at the retailer for some time to come.
The discounter last week admitted hackers stole data tied to 40 million credit and debit cards. Angry customers have lashed out, flooding Target's customer service line, and one Christmas shopper even filed a lawsuit, saying the theft exposed her to identity theft.
But for many consumers, there is likely little reason to worry, even if they've shopped at Target in recent weeks.
That's because credit card users typically aren't held liable for any unauthorized charges, particularly in a highly publicized case of widespread fraud.
The bottom line is that potentially affected consumers only need to review their account activity a bit more closely than normal.
Here are some tips on using your cards safely.
Make a credit card your go-to spending method. All four of the major card networks have adopted blanket $0 liability guarantees for credit card transactions. That means if someone makes an unauthorized purchase, you won't have to pay.
Sign for debit card purchases. Debit card fraud protections aren't as straightforward as with credit cards. While you typically won't be held liable for unauthorized debit transactions when you sign a receipt (unless you have a MasterCard debit card and your account is not in good standing), only Discover debit card users are guaranteed $0 liability when a PIN is used, rather than a signature.
Federal law provides a safety net. By law, consumer liability is limited to $50 when unauthorized transactions are reported within two business days and $500 if you report within 60 days.
Review account transactions. Not only does regularly reviewing your account statements and transaction history make it easier to budget, but doing so also enables you to spot potentially fraudulent transactions and report them to your card issuer.
Leave no room for doubt. Never leave the final amount of a transaction open for interpretation. For example, make sure to always fill in the "Tip" field on a bill, even if you're only going to write "$0.00."
Common sense is your biggest ally: Simple steps like shredding financial documents before throwing them away, safeguarding your PIN, and exercising caution online will make you a much harder target for fraudsters.
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