Despite Reforms, Visa and MasterCard Debit Cards Still Put Consumers at Risk, A CreditCardAssist.com Report Finds
The recent Federal reforms to the banking industry fail to adequately protect Americans with debit cards, according to a report released by CreditCardAssist.com, a leading credit card intelligence and resources firm. Citing the prevalence of mass debit card theft from corporations like CitiBank and Sony, the report
outlines a systematic failure in debit cards, especially the ones issued by MasterCard and Visa.
“The entire debit card system is flawed,” said CreditCardAssist.com founder Bill Hazelton. "A consumer can lose everything in the blink of an eye and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever get it back." Studies have shown that a lapse in authentication security has made the information on debit cards easier to steal than any other piece of plastic in circulation. Because “check cards” and “unsecured” debit cards don’t use PIN numbers to validate transactions, they give thieves instant access to a consumer’s personal checking or savings account. As a result, victims could be left penniless for more than two weeks while their bank investigates the case.
"When someone steals your credit card, you can just refuse to pay your balance that month,” Hazelton explained. “But when your debit card is compromised, you’re losing the money you need to pay your mortgage, your medical bills and other necessary expenses -- this makes debit card fraud much more devastating than credit card fraud."
Debit card fraud is especially troubling when considering how easy it is for hackers to steal thousands of consumer debit card numbers at once from merchant and bank databases. This summer, financial giant Citibank had approximately 21 million card numbers stolen from its database when hackers realized they could simply alter their browser’s URL to expose different accounts -- and the personal information held within them. Just days later, Sony Online Entertainment exposed over 100 million user account details in a similar mass hack.
If they don’t report the false charges within two days, victims of debit card fraud are currently liable for up to $500 and if they take longer than two months, they receive no liability protection whatsoever. By contrast, victims of credit card fraud are only liable for $50, no matter the time period. “This regulatory disparity is absolutely putting consumers at risk,” Hazelton says, “consumers need to wake up and demand equal protections for debit cards -- or the problem won’t go away.”
Hazelton is well acquainted with advocating credit and debit card safety. He founded CreditCardAssist.com in order to advise consumers and small business owners on the perils and pitfalls of the credit card industry. Since its establishment in 2004 the company has grown into one of the leading credit card information resources on the Internet, and has been cited by publications like New York Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and Entrepreneur Magazine.