What To Do in Case of Discover Debit Card Fraud

Ashley Ferraro, Consumer Operations
Nov 20, 2023
 Min Read

Debit card fraud has been on the rise in the past few years, as confirmed by numerous reports. In 2022, debit card fraud in the U.S. amounted to 196 million dollars, while more than 38,000 debit card fraud reports were filed, and more than $106 billion was lost in the first two quarters of 2023.

Discover(R) debit cards are also not immune to fraud—in late 2022, this financial services company from Riverwoods, IL, pulled back its checking account and debit card products due to a high number of fraudulent transactions.

As Discover decided to relaunch their debit cards in 2023, it is more important than ever to understand how to protect yourself from potential Discover debit card fraud and what to do if you eventually fall prey to hackers—the topics that we tackle in this article.

Steps To Take When Dealing With Discover Debit Card Fraud

A hand holding a red payment card next to an open laptop
Source: Negative Space

In case you have any reason to suspect that your Discover debit card details have been compromised (for example, because a business you shopped at was hacked), you should immediately switch to damage control mode to minimize financial loss. The first step is to verify if there are any unauthorized transactions linked to your account. The easiest way to check is to log into your Discover Mobile app or sign into your Discover account via a web browser and go through the latest transactions. If you notice that your debit card has been used for purchases you don’t remember making, you should:

  1. Freeze your Discover debit card
  2. Report Discover debit card fraud
  3. Update your billing information on the replacement card

Freeze Your Discover Debit Card

To freeze your Discover debit card, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Discover Mobile app on your phone.
  2. Tap on your debit card on the dashboard.
  3. Click More in the lower right corner of the screen and go to Manage Debit Cards.
  4. Tap on Freeze Card.

If you don’t use the Discover Mobile app, you can freeze your debit card after logging into your bank account or by calling Discover at 1-800-655-3898.

Freezing your card will prevent hackers who obtained your Discover debit card data from making any new purchases with it or using it at an ATM. However, you won’t be able to retrieve any money that has already been spent without your approval or get a reissued card unless you report debit card fraud to Discover.

Report Discover Debit Card Fraud

A picture of wooden dice spelling out the word “scam” on top of fake banknotes
Source: Tara Winstead

Before reporting debit card fraud to Discover, you should double-check whether your household members or other authorized users have transacted with your Discover debit card without your knowledge. Failing to verify this may lead to so-called friendly fraud, a legitimately made purchase falsely reported as fraudulent, which can result in the suspension of your bank account.

If you confirm that the suspicious transaction was fraudulent, you should contact Discover by calling 1-800-240-7938 or initiate a transaction dispute online by following these steps:

  1. Log into your account using a preferred web browser. 
  2. Go to the Activity and Statement page.
  3. Find the transaction that you wish to dispute.
  4. Click on Dispute Charge.
  5. Follow further instructions.

Once you report a fraudulent transaction on your debit card, Discover will close your account and send you a replacement card with new account information to prevent further fraud. The unauthorized purchases will be removed from your account, and your case will undergo an investigation that may last up to 90 days[1].

You should also know that Discover will not hold you liable for any unauthorized transactions on your consumer debit card, according to the company’s Zero Fraud Liability Guarantee[1].

Update Your Billing Information on the Replacement Card

If you set up any recurring payments on your previous debit card, such as for bills and subscriptions, you should update your billing information with those merchants as soon as you receive the replacement card. Failing to do so may lead to missed payments and late payment penalties. You can typically update your billing information by following these steps:

  1. Sign in to the accounts linked to your previous debit card.
  2. Navigate to the billing section.
  3. Remove the lost/stolen card data.
  4. Add the replacement card details, i.e., card number, CVC, and expiration date.

Tips for Protecting Your Debit Card Data From Future Fraud

A frontal image of a hand holding a credit card with another hand holding a phone
Source: Tima Miroshnichenko

While Discover has established measures for helping you deal with debit card fraud, you still have to go through the arduous process of reporting the incident, waiting for the replacement card, and updating your billing information. For this reason, you should take the necessary steps to avoid becoming a victim of debit card fraud in the future. Measures you can take to strengthen the security of your financial data against future fraud include:

  1. Monitoring your bank account activity
  2. Paying attention to phishing attempts
  3. Switching to virtual cards

Monitor Your Bank Account Activity

You can check your bank account activity and transaction history once a week online and pour over your printed statements on a monthly basis, but it is recommended that you do both as often as possible. Catching a suspicious transaction fast can help you react in a timely manner and limit financial losses.

One of the best ways to stay up-to-date with activities on your Discover debit card is to set up fraud and transaction activity alerts. Once you do, Discover will send you a notification any time there is unusual activity on your account, and you can verify the transaction with a customer service representative via text. You can also set up notifications for every purchase that exceeds the amount you specify[2].

Pay Attention to Phishing Attempts

Phishing emails are one of the most common ways for scammers to obtain your Discover debit card details. Phishing entails a fraudster posing as a legitimate individual or company, such as Discover, and attempting to trick you into:

  1. Providing sensitive information in response to the email
  2. Signing up on a fake login page designed to steal your login credentials
  3. Downloading an attachment ridden with malware

To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam, you should always verify whether the email you received from Discover is legitimate. Common signs of phishing emails are an impersonal greeting, grammar and spelling errors, and a tone conveying a sense of urgency.

Switch to Virtual Cards

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from scams when shopping online and avoid potential debit card fraud is to use virtual cards. These cards come with their own 16-digit numbers, expiration dates, and security codes so that you don’t have to share your actual debit card number when shopping online. Even though virtual cards are connected to your debit card or checking account as a funding source, your actual credentials can’t be compromised in case of a data breach on a merchant’s website. 

For the ultimate virtual card experience, consider signing up for an independent virtual card provider, such as Privacy. It offers several convenient customization features while adding an invaluable level of protection to your online transactions.

Keep Your Banking Data Safe With Privacy Virtual Cards

Privacy Virtual Cards can be connected to your debit card or bank account, but they replace that information during online transactions with randomly generated numbers, protecting it from hackers. Privacy Cards are issued by Visa® or Mastercard® and work with most merchants that accept Visa and Mastercard payments, such as favorites like Shein, AliExpress, Amazon, Wish, and eBay.

The following two variants of Privacy Cards cater to different purposes while increasing the safety of your online transactions:

Card Type Description
Single-Use Cards These cards close a few minutes after the first transaction is completed. This way, potential fraudsters cannot misuse your virtual card details if they manage to steal them from a merchant's server.
Merchant-Locked Cards This type of Privacy Card “locks” to the first merchant you purchase at. If your virtual card details get stolen, hackers won’t be able to use them at any other merchant.

Besides masking your actual card or bank data on the merchant's website and protecting it from unauthorized access, Privacy Virtual Cards offer robust customization and control features, enabling you to keep your budget and expenses under control.

A tiny shopping cart with a sign that says “sale” in it and a shopping bag next to it
Source: Karolina Grabowska

More Privacy Virtual Cards Benefits

Privacy works particularly well for managing unwanted subscription services because it allows you to easily pause or close your virtual card, preventing unwarranted charges. Your linked debit card or account won’t be affected by the action.

Privacy also enables you to set spending limits on your virtual cards, which helps you control your spending and prevent overcharging attempts by sneaky merchants. With the Privacy app (available for iOS and Android devices), you will be able to track your account activity in real time and generate and use virtual cards on the go.

By downloading the Privacy browser extension, you can speed up checkout time as the extension autofills your Privacy Virtual Card details in the checkout fields. You can get the Privacy extension for all major browsers, including:

You can also leverage the Safari extension for iOS devices to enjoy speedy checkouts while shopping on your iPhone or iPad.

How To Get a Privacy Virtual Card

Privacy Virtual Cards are available to most people living in the U.S. if they:

  • Are U.S. citizens or legal residents
  • Are at least 18 years old 
  • Own a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union

If you meet the criteria, you can request a Privacy Virtual Card in just a few steps:

  1. Create an account 
  2. Provide the necessary details to confirm your identity
  3. Link the preferred funding source (a debit card or a checking account)
  4. Request your first Privacy Virtual Card

Privacy currently offers three pricing plans—Personal (free for domestic purchases), Pro ($10/month), and Premium ($25/month). The table below presents notable features available with each plan:

Personal Pro Premium
  • Up to 12 virtual cards a month

  • Access to the Privacy mobile app and browser extension

  • Spending limits

  • Pausing and closing virtual cards

  • Up to 36 cards a month

  • All features available with the Personal plan

  • Zero fees on foreign transactions

  • 1% cashback on eligible transactions (totaling up to $4,500 a month)

  • Priority support

  • Up to 60 cards a month

  • All the Pro plan features

  • Dedicated account management


[1] Discover. https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/member-benefits/security/fraud/, sourced October 2023
[2] Discover. https://www.discover.com/online-banking/security-center/, sourced October 2023
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