The credit card industry is enjoying its own version of the holiday giving season, with credit card rewards offers and cash back deals popping up everywhere like nuts in a fruitcake. But the season of giving is apparently also the season of taking. PNC Bank recently released a study that showed that the number of reported lost or stolen credit cards jumps an average of 19 percent during the holiday months of November and December when compared to the rest of the year.
PNC based its conclusion on an analysis of its customer reports from 2008 to 2010. The increase is partly attributable to card holders using their cards more frequently. Whether theft of the credit cards actually occurred or the cards were just misplaced due to the rush and stress of holiday shopping, PNC didn't reveal, but its consumer credit and debit card expert Mark Ford noted that many times the loss is preventable, for example by following simple security precautions recommended by the FDIC.
According to Emily Krull, senior specialist of corporate communications, the data on lost or stolen cards included reports from PNC's international customers, but the numbers did not show that any particular country or region was affected more than another. Krull said the company won't have figures for the end-of-2011 holiday period until early 2012.
Federal law requires that consumers can not be held liable for more than $50 in unauthorized credit card charges if the charges are made before the card is reported stolen. Consumers are not liable for any charges if the card has been reported stolen before charges are made, or if the number is stolen but the card remains in the owner's possession.
PNC is the country's fifth largest bank. It offers three Visa cards in addition to its other banking services.