Each payment method—including credit or debit cards, cash, checks or electronic payments—carries varying consumer protections and potential out-of-pocket costs in the event of theft or fraud.
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization, offers these tips for safe shopping, and in the event of fraud, how to recoup your losses:
Take home receipts . Save them or shred later instead of throwing them in a store’s trash (they may have your account number printed on them).
Avoid suspicious-looking ATMs and card readers . They can be scams. Counterfeit cards can be made by “skimming” checkout-lane card readers, where account data from cards’ magnetic strips are secretly copied.
Report fraudulent charges immediately . The Fair Credit Billing Act limits your loss on credit cards to $50, but you must notify the card company within 60 days. For debit cards and electronic transfers, however, your liability remains $50 but must be reported to your financial institution within two business days.
Write checks only to people you know . They include both your account number and bank routing number, making your account easily accessible to fraudsters.
Soure: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs32-paperplastic.htm .