Here's some good news: Even if your credit card gets stolen, lost or cloned -- no matter what type it is -- your maximum liability for unauthorized charges is $50, under federal law. That goes down to zero if your credit card account information, and not the actual card itself, is used to make fraudulent purchases, according to the Fair Credit Billing Act.
Debit cards have fewer protections. If you report the card missing before any unauthorized transactions take place, you aren't responsible for the loss. But if you report the card missing after a fraudulent transaction pops up, your losses vary depending on how much time has passed since you realized your card is gone.
- Within two business days, your maximum liability is $50.
- Within 60 days after your statement is mailed, your maximum liability is $500.
- After that, there's no maximum liability and you could lose all your funds in the account and possibly be charged overdraft fees.
It's always a good idea to protect your cards from fraudulent charges by monitoring your purchase history online. Contact your card issuer and credit reporting bureaus immediately if you find a suspicious transaction.
If you forget to check here and there, it's helpful to know that your card issuer also tracks your transactions, and its security programs will flag unusual purchases, usually before you even see them.