Am I Responsible for Charges if My Credit or Debit Card is Stolen?

These days you can literally open up your mail and read a statement showing that someone charged $10,000 on your credit card and it wasn't you. Almost immediately you panic! So now you need to settle down and deal with the problem.

If you use a credit card rather than a debit card, federal law provides that your liability for unauthorized credit card use is $50. If you file a missing card report before it's used you have no liability. Some credit cards offer consumers protection against even the $50 liability. It's obvious the credit card companies would love us to use our cards regardless of their risk.

This is not a guarantee of a $50 limit if you allow a member of your family to use the card or have access to the card. The best plan is if you are given notice of unauthorized credit card use or suspecte it occurred you should immediately contact your credit card company and advise them. Do it as though you were a lawyer. Put it in writing and keep a copy. Better yet, send it certified mail.

As a general guidance and a life lesson: it's always best to put things really important in writing and send them by certified mail.

Well what then is my liability for a debit card stolen? Depends upon how fast you can report the loss. If you report the loss of the card before it is used, your liability is zero if it is thereafter used. After you learn of loss you have two days to notify the debit card company of the unauthorized use and then your maximum out-of-pocket is $50. If you take more than two days to notify your bank or credit card company but less than 60 days your maximum loss increases to $500. If you fail to notify the credit card company or bank within 60 days you may wind up having to pay for all the amount even though it's unauthorized.

So the lesson here is to take a good look at your credit card usage and debit card usage. The best lesson is: try to use a credit card whenever possible and particularly when you buy something online.

If you are in need of a knowledgeable Illinois attorney, contact the DuPage County office of  Martoccio & Martoccio at 630-920-8855.

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