Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stolen Debit Card!

Our daughter's bank debit card was compromised. While checking her transactions, she noticed several $1.00 purchases she hadn't made. She contacted my husband and me for help, and we all learned several things about the best way to handle debit card theft.

safeguard debit and credit cards from being stolen

Educate Your Children About Debit Card Management

Parents should be sure their kids understand the importance of keeping a positive balance in their debit account, protecting their card against theft, and checking their account transactions daily. They should also know when and how to contact the bank about their account. In case a theft is discovered when parents cannot immediately be reached, teenagers should understand the process of how to cancel a card.

Bank Transactions Should Be Checked Frequently

Our daughter's habit of checking her debit transactions daily is how she discovered the card had been compromised. By noticing this so quickly, she was able to minimize the dollar amount actually charged to her account. According to the Federal Trade Commission, "Your protection against unauthorized charges depends on the type of card — and when you report the loss." Checking your bank statement frequently for charges you have not made is wise.

Cancel a Stolen Card Immediately

Our daughter was confused about why a thief would make purchases of just one dollar, so she called us. My husband explained that this was done to determine the validity of the account. Thieves, according to, "often first test to check that the accounts haven't been canceled by aware customers by sending a small charge through." Our daughter then called the phone number on the back of her card and her card was deactivated. She was informed a new card would be mailed to her, and she would not be responsible for any purchases she did not make.

Always Verify the Correct Mailing Address

Unfortunately, none of us thought about the fact that it is our home address that is listed on my daughter's bank account, not her college address. The card arrived promptly, as promised -- but to our house, located several states away from where our daughter lives. Oops! I had to mail the new card to her, which created a further delay.

Always make sure to provide the correct mailbox address
Image by SusanF

Always Have a Method of Payment Besides a Debit Card

Everyone should have a method of payment besides just one debit card, in case the card becomes compromised, lost, or stolen. Fortunately, our daughter could shop using her checkbook until her new card arrived. As an extra security, it is always smart to always keep a little cash on hand.

When a debit card is compromised, it is common to feel flustered. It is important for debit card holders of all ages to know in advance what to do if their card is compromised. This knowledge will ensure their ability to take immediate action to cancel the card, which might reduce their odds of being responsible for some or all of the charges made by the thief. Share this article with your teenagers and they will know exactly what to do if their card is stolen.

What other advice would you offer when a person's credit or debit card has been used by someone else?

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Editors Note: This post, originally published on 10/9/14, has been completely revised and revamped for improved readability, comprehensive content, and style. Prior to revision, it was syndicated by BlogHer and published as What to Do If Your Debit Card Gets Stolen.


  1. So sorry this happened to your daughter - glad the bank took care of everything quickly!

  2. It seems like bank cards are being compromised much too often lately! I wrote this post, hoping it will prevent others from making the mistake we did, and delaying the replacement by a few days! The bank was speedy - but we goofed!

  3. This is a great reminder, Susan. I'm glad everything worked out for your family. :)

    1. Thanks Dee. I can't help but wonder how the banks deal with all the charges that are unpaid. Doesn't seem fair for those dishonest people to get away with stealing!

  4. This happened to us twice this year. Two different banks, 2 different cards both hubbies. Which is weird because he only uses his locally. There were 4 charges 2 in Texas and two in New York. Each of $1 then the big hits. The bank told us that what is going on is that crooks are putting these magnets at gas stations do when you swipe your card it somehow saves the information. The thief goes back to the gas station gets the magnets with all
    the information on it. He then makes stolen cards with these numbers on it. Sell them make the dollar purchase to show the buyer they really work then the buyer goes shopping. We know longer use the pay at the pump method we go in to pay. Hasn't happened since...knock on wood. Christmas season is coming so people should be extra vigilant!

    1. Good advice Rena. Sorry you had those experiences, but thanks for sharing this information!


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