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Generally, to obtain the zero liability protection, card holders must simply use their card and report any fraudulent charge to their card issuer. Visa USA, for example, advises card holders to use their cards and report any suspicious transaction charges. Where the charge is fraudulent, the financial institution may reverse the transaction or extend provisional credit to offset the loss from the unauthorized use.
Although both Visa and MasterCard provide zero liability protection on signature transactions, only Visa provides protection on PIN-based transactions made over its PIN debit network. The New York Times reports that MasterCard does not extend protection for PIN transactions, at least partially, because its network only processes a small percentage of PIN-based transactions as compared
Credit cards may place various conditions on the ability to receive the zero liability protection. MasterCard, for example, provides that card holders must have: their accounts in good standing; exercised reasonable care in safeguarding their accounts from unauthorized use; and not reported two or more unauthorized transactions in the past year.
Although many credit cards provide zero liability for unauthorized purchases, according to the New York Attorney General, U.S. federal law limits liability for unauthorized charges on a card to $50. Unauthorized use of ATM and debit cards is also limited to $50 if the card holder reports the loss of the card within two days; the limit rises to $500 if the loss of the card is reported within 60 days.