In today’s highly technological and constantly evolving world, more and more people are utilizing credit cards and debit cards to make purchases – be it in traditional brick and mortar stores or online. As this type of usage increases, the likelihood of experiencing an issue with these type of payment methods is also expected to become more and more prevalent.

Examples of these issues include unauthorized purchases, incorrect charges, and/or failure to receive credit for purchases that have been returned. You will be pleased to know that there are productive measures to handle these problems and laws that will protect you.

The Legal Protections

The legal protections in place to protect consumers – just like you – when it comes to credit cards and debit cards are laws created and put into effect by the federal government. These are designed to limit the legal-based liability of issues associated with card-based electronic payment methods. For credit cards, these are Regulation Z and the act known as the “Truth in Lending Act” or “TILA”. For debit cards, these are Regulation E and the “Electronic Funds Transfer Act” or “EFTA”. Starting in April of the year 2019, prepaid card accounts will be protected by Regulation E and the “Electronic Funds Transfer Act”, as well.

The Issues

Below, you will find various issues that may occur with debit card and credit cards. Following each issue, you will learn about your responsibilities and liabilities. These outline what you should do if you experience any of the issues outlined here.

Lost or Stolen PIN
If you lose your PIN or find that your PIN has been stolen, you must start by notifying the issuing bank or credit card company within 48 hours. If you receive a statement that shows an unauthorized purchase, you must notify the bank/company within 60 days or sooner. The same holds true for transfers that you have not authorized. If you take these steps, you will only be responsible for up to $50 if reported within 2 days. If reported up to 60 days, you may be responsible for up to $500. If you report after 60 days, you may be held completely responsible.

Unauthorized Transactions
If you discover an unauthorized purchase on your statement and notify the bank/company within 60 days, you will not be held responsible. Immediately after the 60 days, you may be held accountable for the complete transaction. Reporting as quickly as possible reduces your liability.

Lost or Stolen Credit Card
Once you realize your credit card is gone, you must report it to the issuing company. You will typically not be held responsible for anything more than $50. If the charges are fraudulent and made through the mail, on the internet, or by phone, you may not be held responsible for any of the amount that is in dispute.

Unauthorized Credit Card Charges
You must contact the credit card company within 60 days of receiving your statement and discovering the unauthorized charges. In most instances, you will be held responsible for only $50 or nothing at all.

Stolen Credit Card Number
As soon as you notice that your number of the credit card has been stolen, you have to contact the credit card company. In most instances, you will not be held responsible; however, there are cases where you may need to cover $50 of the unauthorized purchases or transactions associated with your stolen credit card number.

Further Stipulations Involving Credit Cards

When the credit card company is investigating the charges, you are not required to pay any amount that you are disputing; however, you are responsible for continuing to pay the amounts that you are not claiming to be unauthorized. There are several credit card companies that do have policies that state that customers have zero liability. In short, this means that you will not be responsible for any of the amount in dispute that you have deemed “unauthorized”.

Additional Measures for Protection

When you use a debit card and/or credit card to make purchases, be certain to always review your bank or credit card statements immediately. This will allow you the opportunity to quickly discover any discrepancies and handle those issues. Additionally, you should opt to receive your free credit report once a year. You may do this by calling 1-877-322-8228 and/or going to Additionally, you may use online services – such as Credit Karma – to evaluate accounts listed on your credit report.

For additional assistance or to learn more about credit and/or debit card issues, you may contact us here at Somerville Bank by visiting one of our Many Locations