A number of Bank of America customers may receive a new debit card in the mail, due to their personal information and account details being compromised.
The bank has not released any details regarding how much data was actually compromised, but admit that they have discovered irregular activities involving debit cards issued by Bank of America.
Even although no unauthorized activities have been reported on debit cards in relation to the discovery, the bank has taken steps to cancel old cards and re-issue new cards to any customer they believe may have been affected.
California law requires that Bank of America contact customers regarding any breach of data. A Bank of America spokesman said,
Through our fraud monitoring and based on information we receive from the card associations, such as MasterCard and Visa, we will notify a customer and block and reissue their card if we believe their card information has been compromised at a third-party location,
Customers were apparently notified by e-mail of the potential data breach. One customer said she received an email which warned that the bank had “detected irregular activity.” An 800 number was provided which was answered by bank employees who went on to explain to the customer, “Your card was part of a mass compromise,” probably at a merchant where the customer had done business.
There are many financial experts who advise that consumers do not use debit cards at all. They highlight the fact that debit cards are not protected by the same laws as credit cards, which have a zero liability protection for unauthorized use.
In the many cases, debit card users end up having to pay for unauthorized purchases made with a debit card. The law states that if you go for more than 60 days without noticing a fraudulent purchase made with your debit card, then you are liable for it and the bank is not required to reimburse you.
Since debit cards are tied to the funds in your bank account this can result in severe cash flow problems. Even if the bank does replenish money stolen through fraud, it can take longer than a month to get the money back.
Debit cards are convenient, but it is very important to weigh up to advantages against the disadvantages before you swipe your debit card every time you shop. If you do want to use a debit card it can be worth comparing different bank policies to find one that has strong protections in the event of fraud or identity theft associated with the debit card.
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