Credit vs debit: Who pays if your information is stolen?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It is the time of year when we give credit cards a workout.  That is all the more reason for credit counselors to tell consumers to keep a close watch on their online accounts.

"This time of year, consumers are using their credit and debit cards more frequently.  It's very easy to overlook a transaction on your account," Jana Castanon with Apprisen said.

When it comes to debit cards versus credit cards, who is liable if a crook swipes your identity? Federal laws protect consumers by limiting your liability. 

With credit cards, as spelled out on the FTC's website, your liability tops at $50. If you report it stolen before a crook uses it, you are not liable.

The same rule applies with debit cards. If a crook uses your debit card, what you pay depends on when you report it. If it's reported before two business days of it being stolen, a consumer can be liable up to $50.  The liability can increase to $500 if it's reported within 60 days.

Of course, each credit card and bank has their own policies. This fall, U.S. Bank unveiled a new mobile app that can alert you of any account activity as often as you want.

"A week or two, a lot of bad things can happen. This keeps you up to date on what's going on in your account," Chuck Johnson of U.S. Bank said. 

You can read more about the differences between credit and debit card liability here: http://1.usa.gov/1c57OY2

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