What does Visa Zero Liability cover?

February 28, 2022

By Jamie Smith

What does Visa Zero Liability cover?

Someone researches visa zero liability online.

Whether you're shopping online or offline, you're at risk of being a victim of credit card fraud. Criminals can use your credit or PIN to run up charges in your name and put a big dent in your finances. Fortunately, if you're using a Visa credit card, you'll have zero-liability coverage, which provides protection against unauthorized use of your card. Check out this detailed guide to find out what the Visa Zero Liability policy covers.

Visa Zero Liability: What does it cover?

Visa Zero Liability is a provision in your Visa credit or debit card agreement stating that you won't be held liable for any unauthorized transactions. This means you don't have to pay a single penny if someone steals your credit card or account information and uses it to make purchases. The policy offers full protection regardless of the size of the transaction or shopping method. However, it doesn't apply to commercial cards, ATM transactions, and non-Visa branded PIN transactions.

How does Visa Zero Liability work?

As a Visa credit or debit cardholder, you'll be fully reimbursed for losses due to fraudulent activities as long as you meet certain obligations. These obligations include notifying your credit card issuer as soon as you notice any unauthorized transactions and taking reasonable precautions to prevent your card and account information from being stolen.

If you're using a debit card, you have to report the unauthorized or disputed charges to your financial institution within 60 days of the date of the statement in which the charges appear. Failing to do so can make you responsible for the entire amount lost to fraud. Some banks and credit unions also impose the same rule for reporting credit card fraud.

That’s why it's important to constantly monitor your credit card account so that you can quickly identify any fraudulent transactions. At minimum, you should carefully review your monthly statement. You can also use your card issuer's online banking or mobile app to check your account history or sign up to receive an alert every time a transaction is made.

Once an unauthorized transaction is reported, your financial institution will investigate the suspected fraudulent activity. They'll examine the transaction details to look for evidence supporting your claim. While the investigation is going on, you'll receive provisional credit for the alleged losses resulting from the unauthorized use of your card. This will happen within five business days from the date of fraud notification.

Thanks to the Visa Zero Liability policy, if your financial institution finds that your claim is valid, the provisional credit will become permanent. On the other hand, if they decide that the dispute is invalid, they may remove the replacement funds from your account.

How can fraudulent charges appear on your credit card account?

With the Visa Zero Liability policy, you can use your Visa credit or debit card to shop with absolute confidence. However, you should be prepared to take additional steps if an authorized transaction shows up in your account, such as filling out a fraud claim form or making a police report in the case of a stolen credit card. Also, if the outcome of your card issuer's investigation isn't in your favor, you may not get any compensation for your losses.

The best way to protect yourself against credit card fraud is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To avoid unauthorized use of your credit card, you must first know the different methods criminals may employ to commit their fraudulent activities. Some examples of these include:

  • Card theft: Stealing a credit card from a wallet, restaurant table, or bar is a classic card theft method still widely used today. A thief may also steal a newly issued card from a mailbox. If your credit card goes missing or your new card takes longer than expected to arrive, inform your card issuer immediately.
  • Card cloning: Also known as a skimmer, a card cloner uses a unique device that fits over a card reader in a retail store, ATM  or gas station. The device enables fraudsters to steal your credit card information when you swipe your card at the compromised terminal. Then, they'll duplicate your card for their illicit use. A credit card with an EMV chip can make this process a lot more difficult; using mobile wallets also eliminates this threat.
  • Account takeover: To take over your credit card account, a criminal contacts your credit card company and uses your personal details to change your password, PIN, and mailing address. Consequently, you won't be able to log into your account. Depending on how frequently you use your credit card, an account takeover can go unnoticed for quite a while. Some credit card issuers allow you to set up a verbal password that isn't recorded anywhere else to provide additional security.
  • Card-not-present theft: Card-not-present theft involves fraudulently using a credit card account without possessing a physical card. It's commonly used to make unauthorized online purchases, which only requires the thief to know your name, credit card number, and card's security code.

What can you do to minimize your risk of credit card fraud?

Credit card fraud can happen when you least expect it. Nevertheless, you can reduce your chances of being a victim by following these helpful tips:

  • Carefully guard your wallet or purse when you're out and about, and avoid leaving any of your credit cards unattended.
  • If you have seldom-used credit cards, keep them at home instead of taking them with you when you go out. 
  • When you're shopping online, make sure you only buy from a secure website and skip the option of saving your credit card number on the site.
  • Only give your credit card number to an individual or company you can trust.
  • Don't choose a PIN that's easy to guess, such as your name or date of birth.
  • Try to remember your PIN instead of writing it down.
  • Don't leave your receipt after you complete an ATM transaction or make a purchase at a retail store.
  • When you receive a newly issued credit card, immediately activate your card and sign on the signature panel.
  • Review your credit card statements right after they arrive and notify your card issuer of any suspicious entries. 
  • Sign up for alerts to keep a close eye on your credit card transactions.

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