It's a crime that can go undetected for years, but seems to be on the rise
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Even better, most card companies have zero-liability policies that add protections beyond federal law -- meaning they'll let you off the hook for the entire amount. MasterCard clarifies that its zero-liability policy applies to all unauthorized transactions, whether made in a store, by telephone, or online, as long as your account is in good standing and you "exercised reasonable care in safeguarding your card from loss or theft. Defining unauthorized use The challenge is that it's not entirely clear what constitutes "unauthorized use.
However, some card companies, including Bank of America and Capital One , specify that fraud protection applies only when credit cards are lost or stolen. Once you report an unauthorized charge, your credit card company launches its own investigation and may ask you to provide the police report number of your complaint with local law enforcement officials. Sure, your kid used your credit card without your permission.
But did he really steal it? Some parents feel like they have to say yes in order to get fraud protection. Billy Pinilis, a New Jersey-based consumer fraud lawyer, says that in the United States, the law doesn't distinguish between a kid buying virtual coins in an app or pilfering your credit card from your wallet to go on a shopping spree -- or for that matter, a thief taking your wallet from your car.
An unauthorized purchase is an unauthorized purchase. Consumers weren't liable for these charges anyway. What the FTC did was benefit the credit card issuers. When you report an unauthorized purchase, he adds, "It's not an accountholder's obligation to fill out any criminal reports or do anything of the sort.
All they have to do is make it clear that they didn't authorize the charge. But a credit card company that disputes its cardholder's version of things may refuse to reimburse the money.
In that situation, Pinilis recommends seeking the counsel of a lawyer who specializes in credit card fraud you can find one through the National Association of Consumer Advocates. If your card company doesn't believe that your kid's charges were unauthorized, "it's incumbent upon the credit card company to demonstrate that in court. It's not an accountholder's obligation to fill out any criminal reports or do anything of the sort. Bottom line, says Pinilis: You shouldn't necessarily take as true what they're telling you.
Keeping kids from your cards: Financial literacy expert Neale Godfrey, the chairman of Green Street Commons, which produces apps that teach kids about money, believes that the FTC-Apple settlement shouldn't have relieved parental responsibility.
By all accounts, preventing family identity theft, or even inadvertent purchases, is simpler than crossing your fingers that your card company's zero-liability policy kicks in fast.
Here's how to do it:.