What is Debit Card Fraud & How To Prevent it

  • By David Lukic
  • Published: Oct 22, 2020
  • Last Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Debit card fraud is way more alarming than credit card fraud because your money is instantly gone from your bank account! With credit cards, you are protected, and the charges can be reversed, and you won’t be responsible for fraudulent spending. Unfortunately, due to the nature of debit cards, your hard-earned cash is gone, and if you wrote checks against it, they will bounce, and you will be on the line for fees. Clearing up a debit card issue can take a few days, which complicates matters further.

How Does Debit Card Fraud Happen?

Debit Card Fraud

Sometimes it is as simple as a thief going through your trash and finding receipts that print your debit card number on them. The criminal then gives it a try, and if successful, they can charge thousands before you even become aware of the issue.

Other scenarios include waitresses or other restaurant workers who jot down your debit card number before returning your card back to you. Then they go on a spending spree with your savings.

Another way criminals grab your debit card number is through phishing emails and enticing you into clicking a link where you are lured to a fake website and enter your login credentials or your bank and debit card information. 

Malware and other viruses can also result in debit card theft and fraud. Of course, the most obvious way is that someone actually steals your physical debit card and uses it to make purchases. 

How is Debit Card Fraud Different from Credit Card Fraud?

Debit Card Protection

There are several differences between the two. However, the most significant difference between debit and credit card fraud is when the funds leave your hands. With fraud on a debit card, the money is removed from your account immediately. With credit cards, you charge purchases and then pay them all at once at the end of the month when you get your statement.

Another way they differ is that credit card companies will reverse the charges immediately and alert the fraud department. With a bank, you may have difficulty getting your money back. It’s a good idea to know what your bank’s policy is regarding debit card theft or fraud. 

Prevent Fraud Charges on Debit Card

Debit Card Fraud Protection

Online and mobile banking have made it incredibly simple for you to carefully monitor your bank accounts and transactions. So, the good news is you can spot fraud quickly and take action. It’s a good idea to check your transactions daily and look for any suspicious charges. If you notice anything you don’t recognize, call the bank immediately.

Some helpful ways to watch out for and protect yourself against debit card fraud are:

  • Keep your computers and mobile devices updated with security patches and antivirus software.

  • Sign up for bank account alerts when charges are processed, or your account drops below a minimum that you set up.

  • Take advantage of paperless statements, so you don’t have anything lying around the house or in the trash with your account number on it.

  • Only use your debit card with trusted merchants and online vendors.

  • Cut up old cards before discarding.

  • Watch out for phishing scams and never click links or download attachments from email for internet privacy and security.

  • Split your money into different accounts. It’s advantageous to set up a debit card account to pay for things but only transfer in the money you will be spending. That way, if thieves get your card, they won’t get your other bank accounts.

  • Never log onto your bank accounts over an unsecured network (like the Coffee shop Wi-Fi). 

  • Run a deep scan often looking for malware, specifically for trojan horse viruses.

Debit Card Fraud Protection

Debit Card Fraud Prevention

If you are a victim of fraud on a debit card take the following steps immediately (you have only 60 days to report a fraud on a debit/credit card):

  • Contact your bank and speak to the fraud department. Identify which charges are fraudulent, and when you first noticed the issue. Keep records of your conversation and ask the bank to waive any NSF fees associated with the fraud.

  • You may want to contact the local police and file a report also.

  • Cancel the card and have the bank issue a new one.

  • Get a copy of your credit report and sign up for credit monitoring with a company like IDStrong.com

  • You may want to consider a credit freeze also, this helps drastically for credit card fraud protection.

  • Contact the vendor (where the charges were made) and alert them as well.

  • If you have trouble getting assistance from your bank, you can contact the government agencies below to help.

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