What to Do if Your Debit Card is Stolen

Image from B.Rosen @ Flickr

My good friend’s check card was swiped this weekend – resulting in a huge fraudulent charge that could possibly send all of her bills into a bouncing tailspin, including her rent. Naturally, she’s freaking out as any of us would be. Luckily, I have never been the victim of banking fraud, but we didn’t really know what she should do. We knew the basics, like calling the bank, but she is definitely in a trial-by-error situation and we’re both learning a lot about what steps you should take if your debit card is stolen.


  1. Call the police and file a formal report. You can call the non-emergency number and speak to an officer over the phone to file the report. In our city, the police didn’t need to come to the home. They were able to provide the report number over the phone and most of the time the banking institution will want to know that.
  2. Call the bank. You need to call your bank immediately and let them know the charges that took place. If you have two debit cards, the fraud investigation can only be started by the person whose credit card was compromised, even if you are both on the actual bank account. The bank will advise you on what to do next, but you need to notify them as soon as possible.
  3. Cancel both of the card numbers and have new debit cards issued by the bank. Even if only one of the cards was compromised, you should still wipe your information clean and just start all over. Sure, it will be inconvenient for a while, but this isn’t something you want to go through again.
  4. Cancel your direct deposits. If you have your payroll sent directly to your bank account, it would be a good idea to go ahead and cancel those for now, at least until you can get everything straightened out. You still don’t know how the offender got your information and until you do, it’s a good idea to cancel all of that and wait for the bank to take care of everything.
  5. Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has an online reporting system where you can report the identity theft. Be sure you report the theft to the trade commission and keep a detailed record of all the people you have spoken to and the information you spoke about.

Another thing I have just been informed of, as I wrote this article, is that if the debit card charges show as “pending” the bank can’t start the fraud process – because technically no fraud has taken place. This can be a good thing because if you are able to go to the place where the charges were made (usually an online vendor) you may be able to intercept the charges and stop them from clearing the bank all together. This will save you a lot of headache in the long run.

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, my heart goes out to you, this whole situation seems like a huge headache and I hope that I don’t ever have to deal with this. When you get to the point that you’re ready to pull your hair out – just remember that it appears to be a felony in most states.

3 Responses to What to Do if Your Debit Card is Stolen
  1. Rosie
    May 9, 2011 | 11:20 am

    I’m very glad you made this post. It’s important to know what to do in this situation. I was also informed by the gentleman I spoke to from my bank that this is very uncommon. He stated that he gets calls like mine at least three times a day.

    • Rosie
      May 9, 2011 | 12:11 pm

      very *common

  2. Virgil Stanphill
    May 15, 2011 | 12:47 am

    Unfortunately the prosecution rate is very low in identity theft cases, which is one of the reasons it’s on the rise. It’s a low risk crime for the crook who steals your personal information. Which is also why organized crime has gotten so involved in it.