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An Alert A Day Keeps The Fraud Away

It’s in the headlines every week: another major retailer has been hacked and given up your credit cards or other personal identity information. Were you one of the 53 million people that got a letter from Home Depot, apologizing for turning over your email address to identity thieves?

According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data, almost 20% of Americans have been subject to card fraud, either with your credit card or debit card.

Identity theft and financial fraud are rampant, but we think we’ve found a better way to protect consumers.


The sooner you report the loss, theft, or fraudulent use of your credit card, the more protection you have.

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit cards have excellent protection for consumers. If you lose the physical card, your liability limit is $50. And if only the card number is stolen, which is the case in most of the merchant breaches (Target, Home Depot, etc), the cardholder has *no* liability according to the FTC. So, if you are a credit card user, you can relax about fraud. Instead, worry about other things, such as making sure that you pay your monthly balance to avoid those godawful finance charges.

Debit cards, although a smart money management tool, have slightly less fraud protection than credit cards. Once the money is debited from your account, it’s incrementally harder to retrieve. A credit card company serves as a line of defense for your money.

Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, the cardholder liability is limited as follows, based on when the cardholder reports the problem:

  • Before any unauthorized charges are made: $0
  • Within two business days of learning about the loss or theft of the card: $50
  • More than two business days, but less than 60 calendar days after getting your statement: $500
  • More than 60 days after your statement is sent: Unlimited

The bottom line: As soon as you think there is fraudulent activity happening on your card, call your credit card company to report the issue.


Since the onus is on you to report the card theft, how do you know the card has been stolen? In general, you don’t know it has been used until an unauthorized transaction shows up on your account.

You’d probably sleep a lot better at night with an easy-to-use service that could simply tell you what transactions were occurring for all of your credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts that could deliver this information in one easy package, via a website, or mobile app, or email.

The good news is that we have built this at Personal Capital, and it is completely free!

When you link your accounts at Personal Capital, we have a full suite of transaction monitoring capabilities included in our service:

1) The daily transaction monitoring email. We have an opt-in daily or weekly email service that shows all transactions across all accounts for each day. I make it a habit to do a quick scan of mine every morning and if everything looks okay – great, I am off to another worry-free day. Simply go to Settings and click Daily, Weekly, or both.

Credit Card Fraud Alert

2) The Cash Flow page on our web dashboard and mobile apps. This shows you the list of all transactions across all your accounts, across a selectable time range.


3) “New Transactions” notification on iPhone. We are utilizing the new “notification widget” feature on iOS8 to include a notification of all recent transactions across all accounts. You can scan them here, or with one-touch open our app to see the full set of transactions.

Personal Capital Recent Transactions


If you’re worried about credit card fraud, or any type of financial fraud, utilize Personal Capital’s free transaction tool to help monitor your finances. You’ve got enough going on over the holidays. Let us help protect your money, so that you can enjoy the season!

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, ElHombre

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