Credit Scores and Reports

Debit card users now more protected from fraud, study says


The 25 institutions below all have zero liability policies for debit cards, meaning that consumers are not responsible for any fraudulent charges made on the cards, according to a new Javelin study:

  • Banco Popular
  • Bank of America
  • Bank of the West
  • BB&T
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Citizens
  • Comerica
  • Fifth Third
  • Golden One
  • HSBC
  • ING
  • M&I
  • M&T
  • Navy Federal CU
  • PNC
  • Regions
  • Sovereign
  • SunTrust
  • Synovus
  • TD Bank
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo
  • Zions

Zero liability policies, introduced a decade ago to protect credit cardholders from fraudulent purchases, have expanded to the point where all 25 of the nation’s largest banks and credit unions offer it to debit card users as well, a new study says.

Javelin Strategy & Research’s just-released 2009 Banking Identity Safety Scorecard says the top financial institutions now all offer the protection  to cover PIN, signature, and card-not-present purchases. It’s the first time that’s happened, and Javelin calls the discovery a “major milestone for the industry” because it finally puts debit cards on equal footing with credit cards when it comes to fraud protection. 

“Entering the holiday shopping period, customers of these institutions can have increased confidence that their debit card purchases will be fully protected from fraud,” says Mary Monahan, Managing Partner and Research Director for Javelin.

Exposure to fraud has long been an issue when it comes to debit cards. In the ’70s, the federal Truth in Lending Act law was amended to limit an individual’s liability for fraudulent charges on a credit card to $50. Beginning about a decade ago, as Internet fraud caused consumers to shy away from using their credit cards, issuers voluntarily expanded the protection to include the first $50, too.  zero liability policies were slower to come for debit cards, but the Javelin research indicates they have now caught up.

Additionally, all of the top banks also offer next-day replacement of lost or stolen debit cards.

“Consumers don’t just want to be protected by others, they want involvement in protecting their money and identity,” said James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin. “Inventive criminals continually update their methods, and banks must do the same.”

Among some of the additional measures taken by banks to protect your finances:

  • All of the country’s top financial institutions are offering anti-phishing e-mail education online, a figure that has doubled over the last year.
  • Banks have finally stopped using Social Security numbers for authentication purposes. Instead, more verifying practices have been put in place to keep track of and protect your identity.
  • Nearly nine out of 10 banks have made available third-party security vendors for online safety for their customers. Banks have teamed with companies such as McAfee and Symantec to make sure their banking services are protected online.

Javelin’s 2009 Banking Identity Safety Scorecard uses website research and mystery-shopping methods to score identity fraud protection, detection and resolution capabilities at the nation’s largest banks and credit unions. The 25 institutions surveyed represent half of all U.S. consumer checking accounts, Javelin says.

See related:10 things you must know about identity theft, States’ weapon of choice against ID theft: Transparency, Survey: 28% of ID theft victims know crime source, How to check for, fix ID theft or fraud, 5 steps to avoid ID theft at the register, How to prevent and cure medical ID theft, When hit by ID theft, take these 4 steps to make things right, How to check for, fix ID theft or fraud, ID theft, debt collection top list of consumer complaints, Identity theft sample letters, 10 ways students can protect against identity theft, Protecting your children from identity theft

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