Do you review bank, credit card and brokerage account statements within a few days of arriving to reconcile the balance and to check for unusual transactions?

Time is of the essence when you discover someone is fraudulently accessing your accounts, since your liability ends the moment you report unauthorized transactions. As talked about here on April 27th, your liability for debit / ATM cards is higher than for credit cards.

In either case your 2-days, 30-days and 60-days to report any unauthorized transactions starts on the date of the statement. Both the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) have  established the statement date for the start point.

FTC: “No federal law limits your losses if someone uses your checks with a forged signature, or uses another type of “paper” transaction such as a demand draft, state laws may protect you. Most states hold the bank responsible for losses from such transactions. At the same time, most states require you to take reasonable care of your account. For example, you may be held responsible for the forgery if you fail to notify the bank in a timely manner that a check was lost or stolen. Contact your state banking or consumer protection agency for more information.”

In most states financial institutions can define “Reasonable Promptness” in their fine print. Some have set it as low as 14-days. The time limit is generally defined as thirty (30) days, with a maximum outside limit of one year. If you report after the deadline, it is nearly impossible to correct any problems. I would not risk my money by waiting one day let alone one year.

Call the toll-free number and report the unauthorized transaction. Plus, follow up your phone call with a letter. Send the letter to the address provided for billing errors; Not with a payment or to the address where you send your payments. I encourage you to use Certified Mail  with return receipt requested.

For more information you can visit:

http://www.ftc.gov

http://www.ckfraud.org/

http://www.idtheftcenter.org

http://usa.visa.com/

http://www.mastercard.us/

Only you can manage your risk of Identity Theft by protecting your private information, monitoring your accounts and promptly reporting any unauthorized use.

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About Bruce Demarest

Bruce Demarest is a Identity Theft Protection Specialist. He has designed and taught classes to educate individuals and businesses in identity theft risk management. The individuals have learned how to continuously monitor their financial identities from credit fraud, plus how to monitor their personal identifying information for unauthorized use. His business clients have become compliant with the federal & state privacy laws. He has conducted information security audits to identify their potential problems and has designed security policies, programs, and practices to address those problem areas.
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