Be honest: When you swipe your credit card these days, you’re at least a little concerned about your personal information getting hacked. This is hardly surprising — retail data breaches dominated the headlines in 2014.
But even though Americans are more worried about their personal information being compromised than ever before, the truth is that we have both the law and the policies of our credit card issuers to fall back on. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in.
Americans worry about data hackings more than any other crime
If you’re panicked about your credit card information getting skimmed by a retail data thief, you’re certainly not alone. An October 2014 poll from Gallup showed that 69% of Americans “frequently” or “occasionally” worry about falling victim to this offense. In fact, Americans fear data hacking more than any other crime they were asked about in the poll.
To put this into perspective, here are a few other wrongdoings respondents “frequently” or “occasionally” worry about:
- Getting mugged – 31%
- A child being harmed at school – 31%
- Home burglaries (while you’re in the house) – 30%
- Falling victim to terrorism – 28%
- Getting murdered – 18%
The results are clear: Americans are more concerned about credit card data breaches than about violent crime, and sometimes by a wide margin. This is why it’s more important than ever to understand your rights as a consumer, because there are protections in place if your personal information gets swept up in a data breach. Keep reading — we’ve covered all the specifics below.
If you get hacked, the law is on your side
There’s not a lot the Nerds can do to help you avoid getting hacked — that’s a job for a different type of nerd. But we can help you combat your fear of getting hacked with the best weapon we have: knowledge. We did our homework, and have some news that will ease your mind.
According to the Fair Credit Billing Act, if your credit card is physically stolen and used by a crook, your issuer can hold you responsible for only up to $50 in fraudulent charges. However, the FCBA also says that if your card number is stolen but you’re still in possession of the plastic — which is usually the case in a data hacking — you’re not responsible for any of the criminal’s purchases. The same is true if you report a card stolen before any sketchy charges are made.
So when it comes to data breaches, the law says that you’re not on the hook for any unauthorized charges made by a hacker. It will still be a hassle to update your credit card numbers on all your online accounts, but you can rest assured that your bottom line won’t be impacted.
Your credit card issuer is also there to help
In addition to the legal limits placed on your liability for unauthorized credit card charges, your issuer is also ready to help. In a series of emails, phone calls and online chats with customer service representatives, the Nerds found that all of the following issuers have a $0 fraud liability policy:
- Bank of America
- Capital One
- Wells Fargo
- American Express
- US Bank
This means that if you have a credit card from one of the banks listed above, you won’t have to worry about paying for any unauthorized charges made with your card. This goes for credit card thefts, data hackings and any other type of charge you didn’t make. Every issuer has a different process for investigating and resolving claims of fraudulent charges — some move faster than others, and it’s important to notify your issuer as soon as you know an unauthorized charge has been made. But in the end, you won’t be responsible for paying.
Hopefully this news will help you sleep a little easier tonight!
Eliminating risk image via Shutterstock.