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Debit cards

Four steps you can take if you think your credit or debit card data was hacked

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Lately, we’ve received a lot of questions about what to do in light of the recent data breach at Target retail stores. This theft of credit and debit card information could impact tens of millions of consumers and we want to let you know what you can do to protect yourself if you spot fraudulent charges.
Protect your credit and debit card information
If your information was part of a breach, the most immediate risk is that the thieves may make unauthorized charges or debits to your accounts. Keep a close eye on your account activity and report suspicious transactions immediately to your bank or credit card provider. The sooner you tell your provider about any unauthorized debits or charges, the better off you’ll be.

1. Check your accounts for unauthorized charges or debits and continue monitoring your accounts

If you have online or mobile access to your accounts, check your transactions as frequently as possible. If you receive paper statements, be sure to open them and review them closely. If your provider offers it, consider signing up for email or text alerts.

Report even small problems right away. Sometimes thieves will process a small debit or charge against your account and return to take more from your bank account or add more charges to your credit card if the first smaller debit or charge goes through. And keep paying attention—fraudulent charges to your card or fraudulent debits to your bank account might occur many months after the theft of your information during a data breach.

2. Report a suspicious charge or debit immediately

Contact your bank or card provider immediately if you suspect an unauthorized debit or charge. If a thief charges items to your account, you should cancel the card and have it replaced before more transactions come through. Even if you’re not sure that PIN information was taken, consider changing your PIN just to be on the safe side.

If your physical credit card has not been lost or stolen, you’re not responsible for unauthorized charges. You can protect yourself from being liable for unauthorized debit card charges by reporting those charges immediately after you find out about them or they show up on your bank statement.

If you spot a fraudulent transaction, call the card provider’s toll-free customer service number immediately. Follow up with a written letter. Your monthly statement or error resolution notice will tell you how and where to report fraudulent charges or billing disputes.

When you communicate in writing, be sure to keep a copy for your records. Write down the dates you make follow-up calls and keep this information together in a file.

If your card or PIN was lost or stolen, different rules may apply. Your timeline for reporting after your card, PIN, or other access device is lost or stolen is tied to when you discover the loss or theft or when unauthorized transactions show up on your bank statement. Therefore, you should make the report as soon as you know that there is a problem

3. Submit a complaint if you have an issue with your bank or card provider’s response

Debit card issuers should investigate the charges (generally within 10 business days) and take action quickly (generally within 3 business days). For your credit card, it can take longer, but you don’t have to pay the charge while it’s under investigation. You also have a right to see the results of their investigations.

If you have an issue with their response, you can submit a complaint online or by calling (855) 411-2372. For TTY/TDD, call (855) 729-2372.

If you have other questions about billing disputes and your debit and credit card protections, you can Ask CFPB.

4. Know when to ignore anyone contacting you to “verify” your account information by phone or email

This could be a common scam, often referred to as “phishing,” to steal your account information. Banks and credit unions never ask for account information through phone or email that they initiate. If you receive this type of contact, you should immediately call your card provider (using a customer service number that you get from a different source than the initial call or email) and report it.

For more information on phishing scams, check out the FTC’s consumer alerts.

For more information, check out the consumer advisory.

Reminder: Accessing your scholarships and student loan funds

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Earlier this year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, another banking regulator we work closely with, fined one of the largest providers of campus debit cards. We issued this consumer advisory to all students expecting to receive scholarship and student loan proceeds onto – what appears to be – a school-endorsed debit card.

Many college students, especially those enrolled in community colleges or who live off-campus, receive scholarships, grants, and student loans that are for more than the cost of their tuition. These funds help them pay rent, get to and from school, and cover other costs, like textbooks. Many schools work with third-party financial companies to disburse these funds directly to students.

Consumers should remember the following:

  • You can’t be required to use a specific bank or card. There may be a financial institution that operates on your campus, but you generally can’t be required to use a specific account or card to access your student aid. If you have received a federal student loan, your school must provide a paper check or cash option.
  • Consider choosing an account before arriving at school. Shop around, and don’t feel limited by the banks operating ATMs on or near campus. Some financial institutions don’t charge you for using any ATMs, and some will automatically reimburse you for fees charged for using an out-of-network ATM. Many institutions also provide a mobile phone app to remotely deposit paper checks.
  • If your school offers it, sign up for direct deposit as soon as possible. If your school offers direct deposit, you may be able to provide the school with your account information in order to access your funds more quickly.

If you have a specific problem with your student checking account and need to resolve it, please file a complaint. If you want to just share your experience with student checking accounts and debit cards, tell us your story and use the tag “financial aid.”

Ask CFPB if you have more questions about student checking accounts.

Share this post on Facebook and Twitter, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Your two cents on student cards and bank accounts

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College is a time when many of us signed up for our first bank account. Often schools set up agreements with financial companies to offer cards and accounts to their students. Today, some students can use their student ID card to pay for everything from washing a load of laundry to shopping online.

With credit cards, financial companies have to publicly disclose these types of agreements with schools. However, we know less about these arrangements when it comes to other things, like debit cards to access your student loan funds and student checking accounts. We’ve heard from students that sometimes these arrangements are a convenience, while other times we’ve heard that they didn’t feel they had a choice. We want to see if students are getting a good deal and what schools can do to help them through the process.

That’s why we need your help. We want to hear about your experience with financial products designed for college students.

Email us at CFPB_StudentsFedReg@cfpb.gov by March 18 to tell us about any aspect of your experience .

Today, we’re launching an initiative on student cards and bank accounts and we want your input. We’ve published a Notice and Request for Information Regarding Financial Products Marketed to Students Enrolled in Institutions of Higher Education in the Federal Register. The title might sound a little formal, but the reality is simple: we want to hear from you.

We’ll use your comments to work with school officials on ways they can make sure that schools and students are getting off on the right foot when it comes to managing their money during college. We’ll also publish a summary for everyone who contributes and let you know how you can continue to help make sure the market is working for everyone.

Tell us your two cents today, and learn more about the CFPB’s work for students.

Consumer advisory: Accessing your scholarships and student loan funds

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is issuing a consumer advisory today to all students expecting to receive scholarship and student loan proceeds onto – what appears to be – a school-endorsed debit card. We are also asking consumers to tell us about their experiences getting their financial aid funds.

Yesterday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, another banking regulator the CFPB works closely with, fined one of the largest providers of campus debit cards.

Many college students, especially those enrolled in community colleges or who live off-campus, receive scholarships, grants, and student loans that are for more than the cost of their tuition. These funds help them pay rent, get to and from school, and cover other costs, like textbooks. Many schools work with third-party financial companies to disburse these funds directly to students. Consumers should remember the following:

  • You can’t be required to use a specific bank or card. There may be a financial institution that operates on your campus, but you generally can’t be required to use a specific account or card to access your student aid. If you have received a federal student loan, your school must provide a paper check or cash option.
  • Consider choosing an account before arriving at school. Shop around, and don’t feel limited by the banks operating ATMs on or near campus. Some financial institutions don’t charge you for using any ATMs, and some will automatically reimburse you for fees charged for using an out-of-network ATM. Many institutions also provide a mobile phone app to remotely deposit paper checks.
  • If your school offers it, sign up for direct deposit as soon as possible. If your school offers direct deposit, you may be able to provide the school with your account information in order to access your funds more quickly.

If you have a specific problem with your student checking account and need to resolve it, please file a complaint with CFPB. If you want to just share your experience with student checking accounts and debit cards, tell us your story and use the tag “financial aid.” We’ll also share what we learn with the Department of Education, who recently published a notice on this topic.

Ask CFPB if you have more questions about student checking accounts.

Share this post on Facebook and Twitter, and we look forward to hearing from you.