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What to do when your account is hit with debit card fraud


Something happen to me the other day that hasn't happened but twice in my 12 years of using a debit card.  Someone fraudulently charged something to my account.

Now for those of you who automatically jump in the corner of "debit cards are risky" consider this.  I am a heavy user of my card.  I use it at stores, gas stations, online, fast food, all over the place.  It's connected to iTunes, PayPal and eBay.  With all the places my card could be exposed, I've only had trouble with it twice in 12 years.  That's pretty good, I think.

So what do you do when something like that happens?  Well, if you're like my husband, you get riled.  You  wonder if you're going to be out the money that was taken, and you worry about how to protect what you have left.  You're not sure what to do first and how to stop this person from accessing your account.  If you're me, you swing into action.  This is what I do and they've messed with the wrong person.

First thing I did was call back the online merchant who had alerted me to the fraudulent charge.  Now, a word or two of caution.  When someone calls you about fraud, make sure they're giving you the information. You should never give it to them.  Even if they say, "I have your card number ending in 5445, can you confirm for me the three digit code on the back?".  That would be a fraudster trying to get the last piece of information they don't already have.  Someone truly calling about fraud shouldn't ask for anything more than your name and confirmation of what they already know.

Once I had cancelled the order that had been placed with my card, I then called my bank to cancel my card. This blocks all transactions from being authorized from that point forward.  I did this by finding the 24X7 card services number on my banks website.  If you can't find a number on the website, try calling their 24X7 phone line, or looking on the back of the card.

Once your card is blocked, now move to protect your remaining funds.  We have online banking so I signed in and moved out as much money as I could, leaving the bare minimum behind.  It was now safely tucked in a second account that doesn't have access from the compromised card.

First thing the next morning, I contacted my local branch to order a new card, and then worked with them to file claims for any charges that had actually cleared the account.  Under Regulation E, you are only responsible for the first $50 of any fraudulent charge and your financial institution will cover the rest.  There is some paperwork to fill out and they'll make sure you've truly been hit by fraud and not buyers remorse.  They are allowed some time to do the investigation, but must issue you provisional credit within 10 days and a decision on their findings within 45 days.  Here's another tip.  For those of you who don't already review your account online, you should know that you only have 60 days from the date of a fraudulent transaction to report it to the bank.  Make sure you're opening those statements.

You'll want to monitor your account for about a week after you've cancelled the card that was compromised. There are some transactions that may have been authorized before you cancelled the card, that hit your account afterwards.  And, some transactions can sneak in under "floor limits" that don't require authorization.

And finally, when your new card arrives, make sure you go out to those sites that you've given your card number to for automatic charges.  Get them the new information while you're thinking about it to prevent problems with purchases later on.

For this fraudster, we stopped him or her in their tracks.  The goodies they ordered online will not be delivered and because we have online banking we were able to monitor and move quickly to protect our funds.  Hopefully you are never hit with fraud, but if you are, I hope you pick up something here that helps make it just a little less traumatic for you.

For those of you who are not yet online, check out this article: How to get a little more back from the bank with rewards checking.  It might be the incentive you need.


  • 5 years ago

    I've had the same thing over the past 2 months! Who are MVQ and BAC Credit Protection Services - all services I never ordered but paid a fee for until I discovered it on the bill.

    I've cancelled the services, called up the credit card companies - gotten refunds and then had my credit cards reissued with new numbers.

  • Stacy Litke 5 years ago

    I've never heard of either, but did some poking. I found a web page showing some "billing FAQs" including "how did I become a member" which mentions the way you get signed up is by accepting another offer.

    Always a good idea to read the fine print, I know I've received one offer or another in the mail and it says in tiny print "by accepting this you are also enrolling in our...blah, blah, blah". The sneakiest are on the back of check where the endorsement goes. You may have inadvertently signed up. There is a "cancel membership" on the page, but be wary, if they are legit, it should be a helpful link. If they're not, they're going to ask you for all kinds of information, including your card number.

    Under Reg E, there should also be merchant contact information with any posted charges, including a phone number. Try calling that to cancel too.