If you’re like me, you get 10+ phishing e-mails a day, asking you to login to some fake bank account site. Heck, my PayPal account was “suspended” five times just today. (Although it was really was frozen once.) Combine this with all the other stories of private information stolen from laptops, and you’ve got lots of potential headaches.
This MSNBC article entitled ‘Know your rights on bank account fraud‘ clearly outlines what your legal rights are if you do become a victim of idenity theft through your bank account. Although it’s from 2005, I learned a lot of new and useful stuff from this article. To quote:
Consumers have well-defined rights with respect to fraudulent electronic transfers, and should generally be able to obtain refunds with little hassle. The rights are spelled out in what’s known as “Reg-E,” or the Federal Reserve Board’s Regulation E. The Fed was authorized to draw up the regulation by the Electronic Funds Transfer Act of 1979. The regulation covers all manner of transfers into and out of bank accounts outside of paper checks, including the use of debit cards. It does not cover credit card transactions.
Basically, Regulation E covers everything but paper checks and credit cards. This includes money transfers via the internet, telephone, ATM, or debit card.
When a debit card or other “acccess device” is lost, such as an online banking password, consumer liability is capped at $50 for those who notify banks within two business days. Consumers who notify the bank within 60 days have their liability capped at $500. After 60 days, if the consumer doesn’t inform the bank, any charges which occur become the consumers’ responsibility. If no access device is lost, and fraudulent charges mysteriously appear on a consumer’s account, the liability clock begins when the bank notifies its customer of the activity, usually through regular monthly statements.
To summarize, speed matters. The potential difference between 2 business days and 3 business days is $450. I had no idea. If you wait 60 days, you get nothing. Of course, your bank may choose to make you entirely whole according to their own policies.