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Subject:  Re: ATM Visa Protection Date:  12/22/2004  5:55 PM
Author:  joelcorley Number:  194286 of 312293


You wrote, What NPR was referring to is that there's a legal restriction that credit card companies must credit back fraudulent charges if they're reported within 60 days of the statement being issued, while with debit cards the legal requirement is that they credit back fraudulent charges reported within 48 hours of your learning of them. However, Visa's policy seems to be more lenient than the law requires.

Actually, I believe the 48-hour limit applies to ultimate liability. If you meet the 48-hour deadline, your liability exposure is $50 by law. If you report within 30 days, your potential liability is $500.

I also believe that a credit card company must give you a temporary credit for the amount in dispute while they take up to 30 days to investigate. Banks are under no obligation to issue a credit, even with Visa's no liability policy. Also, I believe a bank has 45 days under law to investigate reported fraud during which time you may have to do without the money that was stolen.

Also, I would recommend reporting any fraudulent charges immediately, both by phone call and in writing, regardless of the card type. However, given Visa's current policy, it's unlikely that if you're on top of things you'll have a real problem with a Visa debit card.

The very real problem this poses is that your funds may go missing for a month or more and you may need them to pay bills. Bounced checks, late payments and other nasty surprises may cascade as a direct result of this once incident and that's not the bank's problem. That's not generally the case with a credit card.

What's more Visa can withdraw their protection at some future date with little or no notice. If that were to ever happen, I wonder how many people would be caught by it unaware? Removing the protections offered by credit cards would literally require an Act of Congress, so I imagine you would get plenty of fair warning.

- Joel
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