RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Your smart phone is probably the most popular thing you carry every day. But there is a 12 On Your Side Alert about your debit card. Unlike a credit card, thieves can debit away "hundreds" of dollars of your money -- that you could end up responsible for. But a bill on Capitol Hill could change all that.
If you are the victim of credit card fraud the most you would be responsible for is $50. The same is not true for your debit card. If crooks go an illegal shopping spree with it, that $50 liability expires if you don't notify the bank within two business days. If you wait longer, you could be on the hook for $500 or more.
Senator Mark Warner wants to change that through the Consumer Debit Card Protection Act.
"More and more of our kids and people who have less credit history, are using debit cards rather than credit cards," Warner said.
No matter what card you use, consumer advocates say the key is to report fraud as quickly as possible. While Senator Warner says there is a disparity in consumer protection regulations between debit and credit cards, the banking community doesn't agree. Some experts say because most debit cards carry the MasterCard or Visa logo, the rules of protection are similar and no change is needed.
Bruce Whitehurst with the VA Bankers Association weighed in on the proposal.
"I think the main message here is that consumers already really have the same kind of protections in place. There are some differences in the actual regulations but ultimately with so much rolling up to Via and MasterCard, you really have a similar situation with credit and debit cards," he said.
Whitehurst, says instead of new regulations, there needs to a bigger push to go after criminals.
"We really want to see attention given to making sure there is a system of accountability in place, where those who perpetrate the fraud are held accountable for the cost," he said.
Senator Warner agrees the banks can't do it all. He says consumers also have to empower themselves.
"That means regularly changing your PIN number, not giving out your PIN numbers to folks who shouldn't have it and understanding in this new and involved cyber security world, we all have to help guard our own credit," Warner explained.
Make sure you check your statement on a regular basis, never carry your PIN on you -- and the moment you notice anything suspicious, contact your card provider. Also, keep in mind, some banks may voluntarily waive all liability for fraud if it's determined you took reasonable steps to protect yourself.
Something else to remember, the change may sound good, but if banks are forced to revise regulations, your bank fees may increase.