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If you are worried about identity theft and you have a Mastercard, get ready for some good news.

I’m Adam Levin and this is the Wall Street Journal Credit Minute.

Visa and Mastercard have had zero liability policies for consumers using credit cards for a while. That means if someone goes on a spending spree with your credit card, you’re protected. But they never extended that protection for fraudulent ATM withdrawals or PIN-based purchases. For consumers using Mastercards, that’s all about to change.

  • In the last few years the PIN information of millions of consumers has been stolen by hackers and identity thieves. They use devices called skimmers, which are attached to ATMs, gas pumps and point of sale card readers and employ cameras which record customers entering their PIN numbers. This information is then transmitted to criminals.

So in response, Mastercard recently announced it’s extending its zero liability policy to all ATM withdrawals and PIN-based purchase.

Mastercard also announced that they were upgrading their identity theft resolution services to provide more benefits to people who have been victimized.

Keep in mind that regardless of these policies, federal law limits your liability for fraudulent debit card or ATM transactions to $50 – IF you notify your financial institution of the loss or theft right away.

This is good news for consumers. Stay turned for Visa’s response – which I imagine is on its way.

I’m Adam Levin. Come to and take control of your credit.

An audio version of this story was originally broadcast as part of The Credit Minute series on the Wall Street Journal Radio Network. You can find the Credit Minute here.