Michael Probst, AP
In this Nov. 19, 2009 file picture stickers on a window show which credit cards are valid in a shop in Frankfurt, central Germany.

Buying with credit cards offers the best fraud protection, according to a recent Card Hub study. This is partly because the four major card networks provide liability guarantees.

Since card payments are due regularly, the likelihood of noticing a false charge is greater. With debit or ATM cards, the money is removed from an account when the transaction is made, and people are less likely to regularly check the charges.

“You’ll not only have to try to recoup your lost funds, but you may also inadvertently bounce a few checks in the meantime if you aren’t keeping a watchful eye on your account activity,” said Odysseas Papadimitriou, Card Hub CEO and former Capitol One senior director, in a news release.

Signing for a purchase, rather than entering a PIN, is greater protection as well. The major card companies vary in fraud purchase protection regarding debit cards.

Mastercard, for example, doesn’t offer added protection. If it can’t be proven that the cardholder provided the PIN, consumer liability is limited by federal law to $50 if it’s reported within two business days, but $500 if reported within 60 days. For any reports after 60 days, there is no cap on what the consumer will pay.

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