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FDIC Consumer News - Summer 2001
|Federal Laws That Can Help|
|The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) protects you against accounting errors and unauthorized withdrawals involving debit card transactions (deducted directly from your bank account) by personal computer, ATM or other electronic device, if you report the problem promptly. Perhaps the biggest protection for online shoppers is the right to correct errors or unauthorized charges if you contact your financial institution within 60 days after the statement containing the problem was sent. Also, in cases of lost or stolen cards, "the EFTA limits your liability for unauthorized transfers to a maximum of $50 if you notify the bank within two days after discovering the loss or theft," explains FDIC attorney Robert Patrick. Eric Kooistra of the FDIC's Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs notes that in many situations the major bank cards will voluntarily cover all losses from unauthorized transfers "as a way to promote worry-free use of your credit card and debit card online." |
The Fair Credit Billing Act, part of the Truth in Lending Act, generally protects consumers from unauthorized transfers, billing errors and other liability when they make an online payment using a credit card. This law also may allow you to withhold payment on defective goods or services purchased with a credit card.
|Government Agencies That Can Help|
|Federal banking regulators enforce consumer protection laws involving transactions with the federally insured banks, savings associations or credit unions they supervise. |
The Federal Trade Commission enforces consumer laws involving nondepository institutions. Write to the FTC's Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 130, Washington, DC 20580, call toll-free 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357). The Web site also includes consumer brochures about safe shopping online, identity theft and Internet frauds to avoid.
Your state government or the state government where the company is located may have the authority to assist consumers in matters involving alleged fraud or unfair or deceptive practices. Start with the state's Attorney General's office, which you can locate in the government (blue) pages in your local phone book or from the National Association of Attorneys General.
The Internet Fraud Complaint Center, a joint effort of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, accepts consumer complaints about possible Internet scams.
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