Some 50,000 cardholders may be impacted by a data breach at one of MasterCard and Visa’s third-party processors. But for individuals, data breaches are often far less scary than they sound — at least for credit cards.
Consumers are actually well-protected against fraudulent credit card charges. In general, card issuers hold customers liable for up to $50 of unauthorized credit card transactions and often times they waive that as well, says Carol Kaplan, a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association. In this case, if it was strictly credit-card information that was compromised, consumers won’t be on the hook for charges they didn’t make.
However, if the data breach involves debit cards, consumers could be at a much greater risk. With debit-card breaches, protections are minimal and consumers are advised to contact their card issuer quickly. Consumers who wait more than 60 days after receiving a checking account statement that shows fraudulent withdrawals could be at risk of losing hundreds of dollars. In the worst-case scenario, they could lose all the money in their account, says Jay Foley, identity theft expert and founder of the ID Theft Info Source, a consulting firm.
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