Stolen Debit Card? Steps To Take Now and Ways To Protect Your Data in the Future
In 2023, debit cards continue to be the preferred method for everyday purchases in the U.S. Debit cards are favored because they typically entail no annual fees and allow cardholders to avoid debt and interest, which can easily be accrued with credit cards.
However, like any other plastic card, a debit card can become stolen and misused if you don’t take the necessary precautions. This article explains how to navigate a situation involving a lost or stolen debit card by tackling the following topics:
- What to do if your debit card is stolen and used by an unauthorized party
- What protective measures you enjoy as a debit cardholder
- Which fraud techniques you should be aware of
- How to keep your debit card and finances safe in the future
What To Do if Your Debit Card Is Stolen
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you should take the following steps if you notice your debit card is missing:
- Notify your debit card issuer immediately—You should report the stolen debit card to your card issuer as soon as possible. You can contact customer support via the banking app or by calling the phone number written on the official website and your bank statement. The card issuer will likely lock the debit card in question or cancel it immediately if stolen. When reporting the theft to your card issuer, you should jot down all relevant information, including the name of the person you spoke with and the time of the conversation.
- Follow up with a letter—After notifying the financial institution of the missing debit card, you should also send them a letter that includes all relevant information about the incident, such as the exact time and date when you noticed your debit card was missing and when you reported it, as well as your account number. It’s advisable to save a copy of the letter and ask for a return receipt so you can be sure the card issuer received the letter.
- Monitor your account activity—After reporting the theft of your debit card, you should continue to monitor your bank statements and transaction history. That way, you can further detect potential unauthorized charges and report them quickly.
Getting a Replacement Card
If your debit card was canceled, you can request a replacement from your card issuer. Once the new debit card arrives, you should activate it by using it or calling the number on the back of the card—the process may differ depending on the card issuer. You’ll also have to update your billing information with merchants you set up recurring payments with. Doing so will prevent you from missing any payments that you set up on your previous debit card, which can result in late fees or service disruptions.
What To Do if Your Stolen Debit Card Is Misused
If you detect an unauthorized charge on your lost or stolen debit card, you should notify the card issuer about it immediately to limit your financial liability for unauthorized transactions.
Similarly to reporting a loss or theft of your debit card, you should follow up the unauthorized charge report in writing by sending a letter to the debit card issuer. In the letter, outline the scope of the financial loss and other details about the transaction, as well as the date of the charge and the date of reporting it. The FTC has devised a sample letter you can use to dispute the transaction.
Once you’ve filed a report, the consumer card issuer has ten business days (or 20 if the account isn’t older than 30 days) to investigate the claim and verify its authenticity. If the institution needs more time to investigate, they must provide you with temporary credit to cover the stolen funds. You should know that the card issuer may not grant temporary credit if you fail to deliver the incident report in writing after being instructed to do so.
If determined that the charge was wrongful, the card issuer has one day to refund the amount that was deducted. After that, the issuer has three days to report its findings and resolution to you.
Debit Card Fraud Protection and Liability
Consumer debit cards fall under the jurisdiction of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. According to this law, you may not be held liable for fraudulent charges if you report them promptly. The time limits are presented in the following table: