I recently asked a representative from Visa‘s debit card division (site sponsor) several questions about my favorite alternative to the credit card – the debit card. Here’s what the representative stated about debit cards and zero liability protection.
Is there a difference between the protection for a debit card and a credit card?
Despite the popularity of debit cards, consumers are often confused about the security features and consumer protections debit cards offer. Many of the same features and protections provided by credit cards are also offered with debit cards.
It’s important to know that Visa debit cards carry the same protections as Visa credit cards. For example, all Visa cardholders are protected by Visa’s Zero Liability policy. This policy means you pay nothing if unauthorized purchases are made on either a credit card or a Visa Check card when you choose to sign for your transactions. Some financial institutions offer Zero Liability protections for certain PIN debit transactions as well, but the best way to ensure you are protected is to sign for your purchases. Visa’s Zero Liability policy also applies to purchases made on the Internet.
Continually monitor your account and review your monthly statement to identify any unauthorized transactions. If you notice fraudulent activity on your card, you should contact your financial institution as soon as possible and report it – this may help to reduce your liability.
If your account is compromised, Visa is committed to setting things right without further aggravation or inconvenience to you. Visa’s cardholder protection policy requires all financial institutions issuing Visa products to extend provisional credit for losses from unauthorized card use within 5 business days of notification of the loss. Many institutions will provide replacement funds even faster, sometimes within 24 to 48 hours.
I highlighted the part about signature-based transactions. When I use my debit card, I usually swipe the card, choose “credit card” when prompted, and then sign my name. For added protection, I use a debit card which is not associated with my primary checking account. Instead, my debit card is associated with a secondary checking account, where I keep a limited amount of cash, at a bank that does not allow overdrafts.
Ask your own financial institution about their liability protection and security procedures. Do not assume you are protected. A few, direct questions about liability protection today might save you thousands of dollars in the future.