About Ken Tumin

Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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Debit Card Fraud and Keeping Your PIN a Secret


Debit Card Fraud and Keeping Your PIN a Secret

It's well known that credit cards are safer to use than debit cards. If your credit card is compromised, you just report the fraudulent charges to the issuer. No money is removed from your bank accounts. However, with a debit card, money is removed from your checking account. If it's a fraudulent charge, you have to fight to get your money back.

This article from The Plain Dealer describes the hassles that you may have to go through if you're a victim debit card fraud:

While many consumers get most of their money back in debit card fraud cases, they generally have to wait seven to 10 days while the bank investigates.

Further, in the typical case of debit card fraud, consumers spent 28 hours making phone calls, dealing with their bank and filing police reports, to get the problem resolved

When a Debit Card and PIN Are Stolen

The typical debit card fraud doesn't involve a PIN. If a thief acquires your PIN, it can become much harder to get your money back. There was a news story this week at my local Florida news station which described the problem a lady experienced with Wells Fargo when her debit card and PIN were fraudulently used. Here's the video of the story.

Her adult grandson stole her debit card and PIN and went on a spending spree charging over $900 and causing over $300 in overdraft fees. Wells Fargo refused to reimburse her even after she filed a police report on the theft. Wells Fargo claimed she had authorized the charges since the PIN had been used. It wasn't until the news reporter contacted Wells Fargo that they agreed to refund her the stolen money and cancel the overdraft charges.

The important lesson from this news story is to avoid disclosing your PIN to anyone including family, and don't write down your PIN. Also, it's important to remember that you are not responsible for unauthorized charges. Make sure you quickly dispute any unauthorized charges with your bank, and if the bank refuses to provide a refund, file a complaint to the bank's regulator.

Coincidentally, TBS ran the Seinfeld Secret Code episode yesterday in which George refuses to divulge his ATM PIN to his fiancée. It's rare to have this much trouble in keeping your PIN a secret :-)

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Alan   |     |   Comment #1
To their credit, Lake Michigan Credit Union allows its debit card holders to change their pins at any time via secure access onsite.  Changes made one day are effective the next day.  The process takes 10 seconds!
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
That really stinks for her.  If she filed a police report against her own grandchild I would believe she did not authorize the charges.  I think something is going on with Wells Fargo because we had a fraudulent charge in New York and we live in Georgia.  Wells Fargo continued to ask me if I authorized the charge after I told them several times no.  Another person I know had fraudulent charges this week as well but here in Georgia.  Wells Fargo needs to start treating their customers better or loose us all together.
Anon1234   |     |   Comment #4
@#2:   I think you are trying to drive traffic to the site you mentioned. 

Please provide a link to the "great article" on your website.  It isn't accessible and there isn't a way to search for it either.   The site is full of holes, and claims to give you rates for the best checking, savings, money markets etc by zipcode but there is no way to change a zipcode and the information is out of date by several months.   


RJM   |     |   Comment #6
I have to say BS to the 28 hour thing. My entire identity was stolen many years ago and I spent less than 5 hours on dealing with it. Multiple accounts . And I went over & above what most people would have done.