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Credit Card Laws and Debit Card Consumer Advisory

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The federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued a consumer advisory relating to the data breaches that have been in the news the past few weeks.  The data breaches include not only the recently publicized breaches involving Target customers, but also many others dating back years.  Unfortunately, the credit card companies have kept right on filing debt collection lawsuits, trying to shift the burden to consumers to prove their account hasn’t been breached.  Under Florida law, they cannot do so.

There are some steps you can take if you are worried that your credit card account or debit card accounts have been compromised:

  • Keep track of your accounts, and watch for signs of unauthorized charges or transfers.  Don’t forget to watch even for the small charges, as some hackers and thieves have been known to take amounts under $10, hoping that you won’t notice it.
  • If you don’t recognize a specific charge or transfer, contact your credit card company or your bank right away.  Tell them you don’t recognize the transaction, and request that they verify it.  If they can’t or won’t verify it, and you still don’t recognize it, send them a written dispute and keep a copy of it.  it’s also a good idea to keep detailed notes of all phone calls with your credit card company or bank.  We have been involved in defending many credit card debt collection lawsuits where the credit card company claims they have no record of any dispute – even when we have evidence of such a dispute!  Make sure you are persistent with your bank or credit card company – until they get it right.
  • Don’t give out your personal information (including your financial information) to anyone that you do not know.  If you get emails or phone calls from someone who says they work for your bank or credit card company, it’s always better to call them on the phone numbers you have on record for them before you discuss your personal information.

Remember, in any credit card lawsuit, they have the burden of proving that the charges they are suing for were actually authorized by you or another authorized user of the account.  In addition, if someone stole your account number but you still have the physical credit card, federal law prevents them from making you pay for the unauthorized charges.  You have additional rights that should be described in your account agreement, as well as many other rights under both Florida laws and U.S. laws.  If you are being sued by a credit card company or bank and you had unauthorized charges on your account or want to know more about credit card laws, contact us to see how you can protect your rights as a consumer.