Since the credit card made its debut as an alternative to cash over 50 years ago, more Americans are using debit or credit cards as a primary payment method than ever before. In addition to the convenience and simplicity of using a card, another reason they have become increasingly popular is because they offer certain protections for consumers.
Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, your maximum liability for fraudulent credit card transactions is $50 and many credit cards promise zero liability for all fraudulent transactions. While similar protections apply to fraudulent debit card transactions under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, it’s important to remember that a stolen debit card, however, impacts your bank account balance as soon as the fraudulent transaction occurs. This can lead to other problems, like overdrafts and bounced checks.
For all these reasons, consumers should pay careful attention to their statements to ensure all the transactions taking place are legitimate, advise experts. To understand how you are protected, it’s a good idea to check with your bank to understand their policy on customer liability and to inquire if they offer solutions you can use to protect your card if it’s lost or stolen.
While some card issuers have evolved cards to offer security chips, as well as have created phone apps to protect against unauthorized charges and monitor purchase activity in real time, some banks are taking extra steps to make debit card usage more secure by putting even more technology in the hands of their customers.
For example, Ally Bank’s Card Controls app — available at no cost to both checking and money market customers with active debit cards and Android or Apple phones — was designed to give customers more control at their fingertips. By using a secure mobile app associated with their bank accounts, users have the ability to turn their debit card on and off, enable only certain types of transactions, set maximum single transaction amounts and create alerts to be notified when transactions occur. Customers can even set location awareness controls so that the card can only be used within a certain proximity of their phones or within a specified geographic region.
“The ability to proactively control, monitor and manage card usage from a mobile phone provides greater peace of mind,” says Diane Morais, president of Consumer & Commercial Banking Products at Ally Bank, Member FDIC.
Fortunately, technology advancements are resulting in new tools that banks can offer their customers to make it easier to control and monitor how and when your card is used, but the services vary from institution to institution. To ensure you are using all the resources available to protect your money, find out what your bank offers to make debit card usage more secure.