The Scoop On Debit Card Fraud - Members Community Credit Union (2024)

Debit Card Fraud…Why and How It Happens!

For many people, debit cards are the perfect plastic. They offer most of the conveniences of credit cards with no risk of accumulating debt.

But like credit cards, debit cards are vulnerable to rip-off artists. And debit card fraud is particularly scary because thieves can withdraw money directly from your checking account.

Here’s how debit fraud happens and how to protect yourself.

How Identity Thieves Operate

Debit card fraud can be sophisticated or old-school. Thieves use techniques including:

  • Hacking.When you bank or shop on public Wi-Fi networks, hackers can use keylogging software to capture everything you type, including your name, debit card account number and PIN.
  • Phishing.Be wary of messages soliciting your account information. Emails can look like they’re from legitimate sources but actually be from scammers. If you click on an embedded link and enter your personal information, that data can go straight to criminals.
  • Skimming.Identity thieves can retrieve account data from your card’s magnetic strip using a device called a skimmer, which they can stash in ATMs and store card readers. They can then use that data to produce counterfeit cards. EMV chip cards, which are replacing magnetic strip cards, canreducethis risk.
  • Spying.Plain old spying is still going strong. Criminals can plant cameras near ATMs or simply look over your shoulder as you take out your card and enter your PIN. They can also pretend to be good Samaritans, offering to help you remove a stuck card from an ATM slot.

Ways To Protect Yourself

Adopt these simple habits to reduce your odds of falling victim to debit card fraud:

  • Be careful online.Shop and bank on secure websites with private Wi-Fi.
  • Monitor your accounts.Review your statements and sign up for text or email alerts so you can catch debit card fraud attempts early.
  • Don’t ignore data breach notifications.The majority of identity theft victims received warnings that their accounts might have been breached but did nothing. If you get one of these messages, change your PIN and ask your provider to change your debit card number. You can also ask one of the major credit card bureaus to place a fraud alert on your file.
  • Inspect card readers and ATMs.Don’t use card slots that look dirty or show evidence of tampering, such as scratches, glue or debris. And steer clear of machines with strange instructions, such as “Enter PIN twice.”
  • Cover your card.When using your debit card or typing your PIN at an ATM, block the view with your other hand. Go to a different location entirely if suspicious people are hanging around the ATM, and if your card gets stuck, notify thefinancial institutiondirectly rather than accepting “help” from strangers.

Even if you’ve taken precautions, debit card fraud can still happen. If your card gets hacked, don’t panic. Tell your bank or credit union right away so you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Please contact us immediately by calling 563.264.7210 if you notice fraudulent activity on your account(s).

The information voiced in this material is for general information and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Scoop On Debit Card Fraud - Members Community Credit Union (2024)


How do people get caught for debit card fraud? ›

How Do Banks Investigate Fraud? Bank investigators will usually start with the transaction data and look for likely indicators of fraud. Time stamps, location data, IP addresses, and other elements can be used to prove whether or not the cardholder was involved in the transaction.

How do you deal with debit card fraud? ›

What to do if it happens to you
  1. Alert your card issuer. As soon as possible contact your bank to report the fraudulent activity. ...
  2. Place a fraud watch on your credit report. ...
  3. Report the fraud to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Dec 4, 2023

What are frauds related to debit card? ›

What are the types of Debit Card Fraud? Skimming devices - It involves fraudulently capturing your Debit Card details by fraudsters. Scammers use a skimming device capable of copying your data from the Debit Card's magnetic strip. They install these devices on ATMs or even PoS terminals.

How do fraudsters get your debit card details? ›

Furthermore, fraudsters can trick you into providing your card information. They can do it through fraudulent emails, text messages, or websites. Another possible way is when your card details are exposed to hackers on a website.

Can banks find out who used your card? ›

Can You Track Someone Who Used Your Credit Card Online? No. However, if you report the fraud in a timely manner, the bank or card issuer will open an investigation. Banks have a system for investigating credit card fraud, including some standard procedures.

Do police investigate stolen debit cards? ›

Police typically do not investigate a single stolen credit card. If there is concern about a larger ring of criminal behavior, law enforcement may be more likely to spend time investigating. In most cases, the credit institution and the FTC handle credit card fraud investigations.

Can you track who used your debit card online? ›

The short answer is no. You can't track a debit card as you would a phone or another GPS-enabled device. While they have numerous security measures, debit cards aren't equipped with a GPS chip or any other kind of technology that allows you to locate them remotely. The same goes for credit cards.

Do banks prosecute debit card fraud? ›

Collaboration with law enforcement

In severe cases of fraud or identity theft, banks may involve law enforcement agencies. This step is essential for broader investigations that may have implications beyond the bank's jurisdiction.

How illegal is debit card fraud? ›

California has numerous Penal Code Sections that criminalize different types of credit card fraud, including 484e, 484f, 484g, 484h, 484i, and 484j. All statutes make it a crime for anyone to use a credit or debit card to obtain goods or services they are not entitled to receive.

Who pays for debit card frauds? ›

Liability rests with the bank that issued the cardholder's card, and if the purchase is later deemed to be fraudulent, the merchant is not responsible for refunding the customer.

Can someone use my debit card without my PIN? ›

If you don't have proper security measures in place and the criminal obtains your debit card information, they can use it for fraudulent online or over-the-phone transactions. These types of transactions don't require a PIN or signature, making the criminal's job easier.

Can a scammer who uses your card be traced? ›

Using Geolocation Tracking

Credit card companies and banks generally use software to extract geolocation data and leverage it for information like the malicious user's time zone, internet service provider (ISP), and exact location of the fraudster at the time of the fraudulent purchase.

Can I get my money back if someone used my debit card? ›

If someone has used your card in a store or online, you're covered under the Payment Services Regulations. This means you must be refunded immediately if you've had money taken from your account without your permission. Always report the loss of your debit card, or any unauthorised payments, as soon as possible.

Do debit card thieves ever get caught? ›

Unfortunately, finding the people who commit credit or debit card fraud can be challenging. Often, even if the thieves get caught, the money is gone, and the scam artists don't have the resources to pay restitution. As a result, the financial institution ends up bearing the loss.

Can you get in trouble for debit card fraud? ›

Are You Liable for Unauthorized Debit Card Purchases? In most cases, federal law limits your liability for unauthorized debit card purchases to $50, provided you report the fraud within two business days of discovering it.

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