*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Aug 28, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If your credit card number is used to make fraudulent charges, will you be held responsible for the charges? The simple answer is: Usually not.
You may be surprised to learn that federal law limits your financial liability for unauthorized charges if your credit card is lost or stolen. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), you will be responsible for a maximum of $50 for unauthorized use of your credit card. However, if you report the loss prior to your credit card being used, or if your credit card number is stolen (but not the card), you will not be liable for any unauthorized charges.
In addition to federal protections, many credit cards automatically come with zero liability, which fully protects you from fraudulent charges.
“Zero liability is a really big deal,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst for CompareCards. “It means that if bad guys steal your information and go on a spending spree with your credit cards, you probably won’t lose anything more than the time it takes to make a call to your issuer.”
Discover fraud liability
Discover offers a $0 fraud liability guarantee, which means you’ll never be held responsible for unauthorized purchases made to your Discover card account. If you see a charge on your statement that you don’t recognize, Discover recommends that you first check with any secondary card member or authorized user who might share your account to see if they recognize the purchase. If no one recognizes the transaction, contact Discover immediately.
Additional Discover protections
- 24/7 fraud protection – Discover proactively monitors your card account for fraudulent activity and alerts you if any suspicious activity is detected. In addition to notifying you if your Social Security number is found on the dark web through Social Security number alerts, Discover notifies you if a new credit card, mortgage, car loan or other account shows up on your credit report through New Account alerts. Discover card members can sign up for the free fraud alerts here.
- Freeze it® – You can freeze your account in seconds to prevent new purchases.
- Free overnight card delivery – Upon request, Discover will send you a replacement card if it’s ever lost or stolen to any U.S. address.
All Discover credit cards are covered by its $0 fraud liability policy, including:
0% for 14 months on purchases and Balance Transfers, then 11.99% - 22.99% Variable.
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. *
Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically*
- INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
- Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
- Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
- Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
- No annual fee.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Cash Back
The bottom line
Although credit card features like zero fraud liability are set in place to protect you from unauthorized purchases, there are steps you should take to safeguard your account information. In addition to shredding receipts, cutting up old cards and not disclosing your account number over the phone unless you initiated the call, you can sign up for free credit card alerts that will inform you of suspicious account activity, such as Discover’s New Account alerts.
If you suspect that your credit card number has been used without your consent, you should report the credit card theft or loss to the issuer immediately. Also, carefully check your card statement and report any charges you did not make to your credit card issuer.