Consumers should stop and give two cheers to Visa and MasterCard for revising their debit card operating rules to cap consumers' liability. Their action addressed an increasingly significant consumer protection problem and perhaps bypassed a legislative and regulatory quandary. Now it's time for Visa and MasterCard, in the spirit of competition, to further improve consumer protection. Other debit card issuers should follow suit.
As American Banker described in earlier articles, the Visa and MasterCard debit programs have created significant problems for consumers. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has called the off-line debit card a "sloppy bank product" and "completely unsafe," and there have been calls for regulatory protections.