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What If Someone Steals Your Debit Card?

Updated on February 28, 2011

Debit cards rock. Who wants to use cash? The germs on those bills is just disgusting. I love my debit cards!

Yet for the few out there who haven’t been victimized by identity theft – I want to go through some real things that happen to you when your debit card number is stolen. And lest you think you have to have the actual card taken out of your wallet, let me assure you, you don’t. If you use a debit card online or if you hand your debit card to someone in a restaurant, you could be giving out your number to thieves.

I’ve had this happen to me three times now – and twice with my debit card. I’m going to explain my most recent experience.

If you’re fortunate enough and you somehow catch the transactions in time then at least you can shut the card down before more damage is done. However, when this happens, your checking account is frozen. You can’t get your own money, especially if the transaction is still “pending.”

I was fortunate enough to have a transaction flagged by my bank within moments of the illegal charge. I got a call from the “fraud and protection” people of my bank at 10:00 p.m. eastern. The gentleman asked if I just purchased a ticket to Mexico.

No – I had not.

The good news is that he was able to issue a new card for me over the phone. The bad news – when I went to the bank early the next morning, the transaction was still “pending”. I couldn’t do anything about it. I had to wait for it to actual “post” to the account.

This small checking account is something I have expressly for on-line purchases. In fact, the bank employees were joking about all the Amazon purchases I made. That was in fact why I was called by their fraud department. My normal shopping habits on that debit card were never as much as that ticket price. That’s why it was flagged.

Now because this is my extra account, it’s no hardship that I can’t touch the money in that account that is legitimately mine. Imagine if you will – that this was your main checking account? The one you pay your bills with?

It has been over a week and I still can’t touch that checking account because it’s now under investigation. It can take up to 30 days for the cost of that illegal purchase is taken out of my account now that it posted.

This is a warning to anyone who thinks it can’t happen to you. I watched a program about an investigation into a credit card scam artist who sold credit card numbers on-line. They made tens of thousands of transactions every single day using thousands and thousands of credit card numbers they got illegally. They got this guy who ran the website but they didn’t get the thousands of thieves who frequented it buying illegal credit card numbers.

If you think you’re safe when you hand the credit card to that nice waitress in an expensive restaurant, think on that one again too.

There are new devices that someone can fit literally in their pocket they can use to swipe your credit card with. It keeps all the information on that digitalized strip and they merely hook it up to a PC and download it later.

They don’t have to use a device either. The young woman who took my credit card at an expensive restaurant in Seattle stood only several feet from me when she added another $100 to my credit card after I had signed the receipt.

Today I write this so this won’t happen to anyone else. I had to go back to the bank twice about the debit card. When the transaction is “pending” you cannot dispute it. So I waited in line at the bank. Waited for them to figure out what had happened to my card only to find out, nothing could be done at that moment. I had to come back when the transaction posted.

Thank God I have the time to run around doing all of these things. How many of you do? How many of you can afford to have your checking account tied up for up to thirty days? Be forewarned! I hope this doesn’t happen to you!


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    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      I don't think it's the device you're using. It's your bank that the hackers are hacking into.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My debt card number has been stolen 4 times since December 2011. I am very frustrated. I am definitely considering moving banks and getting the second account. I only use my debt card on secure sites... so I think. Anyone know how secure a Nook is?? I am wondering if it is happening when we buy books or download apps on there. Anyone have any other suggestions??? I am ready to start paying cash for everything I can.

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for your gracious comments kims3003! Very kind of you!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      A great article - so well written with lots of very helpful suggestions and tips. You have a very nice writing style - one that keeps the reader interested in continuing to read your piece to the very end. This takes a certain kind of gift and talent and one that you certainly have. Nice work!

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      You are so right Wayne! I never carry cash money anymore now the thieves have ruined even that for me because we have to be so careful with our debit cards! Ug! Between the terrorists and the crooks - every day living can be complicated! LOL ;-)

      Thanks - always - for your two cents! Carol

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      A helpful hub, even a liberal should applaud you for! LOL Better keep some "walkin' round" money somewhere in a sock, huh? WB

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Sheila - and when it does happen to you - sadly odds are that it will - it's not a good thing. My suggestion is get two checking accounts that you can transfer money into when you're using your debit card. This way if they get the "dummy" checking account - you'll only be out a little bit of money for some time rather than tying up your main checking account!

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Sis for stopping by and leaving your comments. If this helps just one person avoid this - it's well worth taking the time to write about it!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      Though I've had some bad experiences with a credit card, I hadn't thought about the fact it can happen with a debit card, too, so thanks for the warning.

    • CornerStone51 profile image


      8 years ago from Mifflintown, PA

      This has happened to my husband just last week. He is missing over $800 out of his account. Thankfully like Carol, it is an account that only he uses for church materials and books,etc. for his ministry. The bank is putting back the $800 but he is closing that account. This has happened twice at this bank so he is taking his money to the bank across the street.

      Thanks for this info,Sis.

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      That's another option Tom - never use your debit card unless you're at the grocery store and you are the one using your card, and it never leaves your hands or no one can stand behind you when you're using it.

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Eovery - I propose opening a "dummy" checking account and using only that one, transferring money as you need it into the other. This way if the dummy account gets frozen - you will be all set. Just a recommendation! Thanks for writing!

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Keep checking every single day Pop - this can and will happen to probably everyone! Thanks for stopping by and verifying that my warnings aren't baseless.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      This is the reason I always make purchases with a credit card or cash and not my ATM. I don't want my checking account frozen.

    • eovery profile image


      8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      I have always been scared of this, but knock on wood, nothing has happened yet, but I could any time.

      Keep on hubbing!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      Dear Carol,

      I just had this very thing happen to me. My husband, thankfully, checks our accounts daily and he noticed that 1800 dollars was removed from our checking account over the week-end. He notified the bank and they replaced the money immediately and then launched an investigation with confirmed the theft. My best advice is, when going to the ATM cover your transaction with your hands so if there is a camera that you cannot detect it won't pick up your account numbers.


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