Another Great Reason To Loose Your Bank Debit Card: Monthly Fees

A colleague business owner noticed a transaction on his bank account that wasn’t appropriate.  A check had cleared for an amount much too large for the dollar range of checks his company typically writes.  Within minutes he identified that the check had been altered and cashed, for approximately 1,900% more than it was originally written.  Consistent with requirements, he contacted his bank and alerted them to the problem.  Later that same day he was at the bank completing and signing an affidavit.  Once completed, he needed to get the funds back into the company’s account to pay bills.

That occurred in February 2011, and he is still waiting for the bank to return his funds.

More and more banks are shifting away from taking the hit from fraudulent activity, moving towards sharing the fraud loss with the customer.  Some banks now refer to fraud as a “shared responsibility” between their financial institution and their customer.  That makes sense, as account holders should have measures in place to minimize their losses from fraud.   However, fraud can still occur even with the best of controls.

In the latest update on debit cards,  Bank of America and other banks recently announced they will begin charging bank debit card users a monthly service fee.  According to news reports, Bank of America plans on charging $5.00 per month for the privilege of using a bank debit card, while other banks are planning on charging lower amounts. (here’s the URL to a good article – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/business/banks-to-make-customers-pay-debit-card-fee.html).

Bank debit cards are readily targeted and sought by fraudsters as they provide direct access to victims’ funds.  If successful with your account, you, the victimized debit card holder, will be at the mercy of your bank to replenish your funds into your account.

My position on bank debit cards has remained unchanged.  Save yourself the aggravation and now any monthly fees.  Loose your debit card, and return to a classic credit card along with a stand-alone ATM card.

And as always, remain vigilant in monitoring your bank and credit card statements and activity regularly.

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13 comments on “Another Great Reason To Loose Your Bank Debit Card: Monthly Fees
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    In outright fraud cases, Visa or MasterCard voluntarily protect check cards they issue through member banks as if they were credit cards, meaning the maximum a defrauded customer is liable for is $50. Visa states they have adopted a “zero-liability” policy, which applys to its debit cards as well as credit cards. Many banks eventually refund the entire amount stolen.

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Heading the team is Stephen A. Pedneault. A CPA and forensic accountant, Steve is also a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) and is a Forensic Certified Public Accountant (FCPA). He brings nearly three decades of accounting and fraud investigation experience to the firm.