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What is an unauthorized transaction?

An unauthorized transaction is any transaction that you didn’t make and you didn’t permit anyone else to make. Unauthorized transactions could be made by someone you don’t know, who finds or steals your card or your account information. Or they could be made by someone you know but who didn’t have your permission to use the card. In either case, you would have to dispute the transactions with your card issuer. The company will then investigate your dispute. If a family member or friend used your card, you may have to sign a sworn statement that they took the card without your permission. (However, if you revealed your PIN, the card issuer will consider it a case of your giving permission to them to use your card.)

You will not have to pay for any unauthorized charges (purchases you didn’t make or permit someone else to make) made using your credit card after you have notified the card issuer. And, under federal law, the most you would have to pay for unauthorized charges made before you reported your card missing is $50. However, many card issuers have a “Zero Liability” policy, which means their cardholders don’t have to pay anything for unauthorized charges.

If you report the loss or theft of a debit card within two business days of when you notice the card missing, your liability is limited to $50. If you don’t, your potential liability increases to $500. You risk unlimited liability (up to all the money in your account and your overdraft protection) if you fail to report an unauthorized card transaction that appears on your account statement within 60 days of that statement being mailed to you.

If your credit or debit card is lost or stolen, contact the card issuer immediately—you can find the number on your monthly statement. Check your account statements when you receive them—or more often online—to catch any transactions you didn’t make and report them right away. 

 
 
 
 

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