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  • Jenn Steliga

Protection Against Fraudulent Charges: your debit card carries protection too.



I hear it all the time: “I replace using my credit card with using my debit card. My debit card doesn’t afford me the same protection as my credit card when it comes to the threat of fraudulent charges”.


This is one of the arguments made by clients as we are building an accountability structure for them and their families. Building accountability measures, such as budgets, serve the purpose of clarifying and designing spending and savings goals.


Why, you say, does the use of a credit card vs. a debit card matter in this regard?


It matters a great deal when it comes to transparency.


One reason that couples fight about money, and individuals are confused about where their money is going, is their use of credit cards. Using a credit card makes clear, concise and transparent budgeting – and thus communication – very challenging. Almost impossible.


So, in an effort to build newer, healthier habits (and thus healthier relationships with money, self and others) I ask my clients if they’d agree to try an experiment for the duration of our coaching agreement and abstain from using credit. About 99.9% of them agree (and by the way are pleasantly surprised at the many positive outcomes this experiment produces).


A few don’t agree, and in those cases it is almost always based on fear. Fear of being the victim of identity theft and the protection they may forgo by using debit vs. credit.



“If your credit, ATM, or debit card is lost or stolen, federal law limits your liability for unauthorized charges.” (Federal Trade Commission)



I hope it will bring you comfort (and perhaps some motivation to join me in a challenge to abstain from credit for a defined period of time, if not indefinitely) by learning that your debit card too has protection.


It’s true, there’s not much that can protect you from identity theft or fraudulent charges if you’re not paying attention to your finances and avoiding following-up on something you don’t understand (such as a bank transaction you don’t recognize). But, if you’re routinely checking your accounts and being responsible with reporting transactions you don’t recognize, there are federal protections regardless of whether you use a debit or credit card. It’s also a good idea to carry Identity Theft Insurance as a part of your financial wellness plan.


Read up via the links below to educate yourself:


https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0213-lost-or-stolen-credit-atm-and-debit-cards


https://usa.visa.com/pay-with-visa/visa-chip-technology-consumers/zero-liability-policy.html


https://sea.mastercard.com/en-region-sea/consumers/payment-technologies/safety-and-security.html



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