Note: This article is part of our Basic Banking series, designed to provide new savers with the key skills to save smarter.
You may have experienced this sinking feeling before: You go to take your debit card out of your wallet and it’s not there. Perhaps you left it in an ATM, it fell out of your pocket or your wallet, or purse was stolen. Whatever the circumstances, if you lose your debit card, it is hard to get cash and make purchases, and you’re vulnerable to fraudulent activity.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to act quickly, report the loss and request a replacement card. By moving swiftly, you can minimize potential headaches like accessing money without a card and disputing any fraudulent charges, and both the bank and federal law can offer more protection the sooner you report to them.
In this article, we’ll review what you should do if you have a lost debit card and what actions to take if the card was stolen. We’ll also provide some of the top national bank’s policies for lost and stolen debit cards, as well as how you can safeguard your account from potential fraud.
What to do after you’ve lost your bank card
Once you realize you’ve lost your debit card and you can’t recover it, banks advise that you move quickly and take the following steps:
- Contact your bank or credit union, alert them that you’ve lost your debit card. You may also be able to report the lost debit card on your bank’s website. It’s important to call as quickly as possible in order to not be held responsible for any unauthorized charges.
- Request that your bank cancel your card and issue you a new one. This will keep the culprit from being able to use the card any longer.
- Check your account via your bank’s website or mobile app and look for any suspicious activity. If you see something, record the details and share the information with your bank.
- Cancel automatic billing tied to the card and update payment info. If you have autopayments scheduled for any bills on your debit card, alert the creditors or utilities that you’ve lost your debit card and will need to be sent regular statements until you replace the card.
- If your card was stolen and someone has used your card to make purchases or withdraw money, consider filing a police report. If you have concerns about identity theft, a police report can help you document any fraud. Also, if you don’t realize your card was stolen right away, a police report can help you document that any unauthorized charges were made by another individual.
- Write a follow-up letter or email to your bank. This helps keep the paper trail going to show you acted quickly and the charges were fraudulent. In it, detail the circumstances that your debit card was lost or stolen, your last known activity and any fraudulent activity. If you have one, attach the police report.
- Keep an eye out. After you’ve reported your lost debit card and checked on your account, you should continue to monitor your account closely to see if there’s any other unauthorized activity.
How to report a stolen or lost debit card
|Bank of America||Report a stolen or lost debit card by phone at 800-732-9194 or online. You won’t be responsible for any fraudulent charges and you’ll get a new card quickly.|
|Chase||Contact Chase immediately at 1-800-935-9935 or online to report a stolen card.|
|TD Bank||Contact bank immediately at 1-888-561-8861 or 1-888-751-9000 for customer service, or online to close account and receive a new card in 7-10 days. File a dispute for any unauthorized activity.|
|Citibank||If lost, customers can use the Quick Lock feature on Citi’s website or mobile app to suspend their debit card, including blocking new purchases, ATM withdrawals and select transfers. Customers can also call 1-800-374-9700 to report the stolen or lost debit card. Customers have no liability for unauthorized charges.|
|PNC||Call 1-888-762-2265 or visit a branch to report the stolen or lost debit card. Customers can receive a replacement card at most of the local branches. Notify the bank promptly and you won’t be responsible for unauthorized activity.|
|Wells Fargo||When you report a stolen or lose debit card promptly by phone at 1-800-869-3557 or online, you will reimbursed for unauthorized transactions. You can also temporarily disable your card to prevent fraudulent activity if you think it is lost.|
|Ally||Report your card stolen by calling 1-877-247-2559 and the bank will send a replacement immediately. In the Card Controls app,you can also temporarily turn off your debit card. Report unauthorized activity promptly and you will not be held liable.|
|Capital One||Contact the bank immediately at 1-866-464-7761 if your card is lost or stolen. You can also cancel your card online. Capital One offers $0 fraud liability.|
What to do if you suspect debit card fraud
If your debit card is stolen and someone uses your card to make unauthorized purchases, it is important to act fast. Most banks’ policies, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank and Capital One, advise customers that if you report the theft promptly, you will not be responsible for the unauthorized charges and you’ll be reimbursed.
Under federal law, your liability increases the longer you wait to alert you bank. If someone uses your card after you’ve notified your bank, you’re not liable for any fraudulent charges. But if charges are made within two days after the theft — and you haven’t reported it yet — you could be responsible for $50. If you go up to 60 days without reporting the fraud, you’re liable for $500. And after 60 days, you could be responsible for all the money taken and possibly more.
Along with reporting the theft to your bank and canceling your card, you should also contact your insurance company because your policy may cover some of your potential liability for fraudulent activity.
How to prevent losses and protect yourself going forward
- Memorize your Personal Identification Number, and never write your PIN on your card or carry it in your purse or wallet.
- Never provide your PIN number to someone else or give it over the phone.
- Monitor your account for suspicious activity. Enroll in online banking or download your bank’s mobile app so you can check your accounts easily, rather than wait for monthly paper statements. When paper statements arrive, open them promptly and review the information.
- Set up alerts so you’re notified when there are any online purchases or ATM withdrawals.
- Write down your account number and keep it in a secure place at home.
- Reduce your daily withdrawal limit. If you have a high limit but don’t need it, consider asking the bank to reduce it. That way, if your card is stolen and money is withdrawn, it will limit your losses.
When you realize your debit card is missing, act quickly and you can save yourself from potential future stress. If your card was stolen, it is important to notify your bank and cancel the card. While it is frustrating to lose your card and can lead to hassles, if you move swiftly to notify your bank, you’ll protect yourself and get back to business as usual sooner.