What Happens If You Lose Your Debit Card?

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You can use your debit card at automated-teller machines and point-of-sale machines 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you lose your debit card you cannot access funds so easily. Additionally, your bank may hold you responsible for withdrawals that are made from your account if you fail to promptly report the loss of the card.

Debit Card Use

When you withdraw money from an ATM machine you need to enter you personal identification number (PIN). Someone who finds your lost card cannot make withdrawals from an ATM unless they know or correctly guess your PIN. However, someone finding your lost card could attempt to use it like a credit card for making POS-based purchases. These purchases only require the person presenting a card to sign the receipt, and very few merchants check the card holder's identification. Therefore, someone finding your card could begin to use it within minutes of your losing it.

Reporting Lost Cards

Contact your bank as soon as you realize that you have lost your card. Although most bank branches are not open 24 hours a day, banks typically have 24-hour hot lines specifically for card holders to report lost cards. Tell the customer-service representative about any recent transactions you made so that the bank can ensure those payments are honored. The representative freezes your debit card as soon as you report it lost. The freeze applies to the card, but not the connected account, so you can continue to write checks and make in-person withdrawals. Typically, banks order a new debit card for you when you report a loss, and this normally takes seven to 10 days to arrive.

Liability

Your bank cannot hold you responsible for charges made on your card after you report it lost. If you report the loss within two business days, your bank can hold you liable for up to $50 of charges made to the card after the loss. If you wait more than two business days to report the loss, your bank can hold you responsible for $500 of transfers made by anyone who finds your card and uses it. If you do not report the loss within 60 days of receiving a bank statement that contains details of fraudulent charges, then your bank can hold you responsible for any funds that are transferred out of the account.

New Card

When you receive your new debit card you must activate it by either calling the activation hot line or by using it at an ATM. Your bank must investigate any fraudulent charges that posted to your account as a result of you losing the previous card. Any losses for which you are not liable are normally refunded to your bank account within 45 days of your reporting the loss. Some banks may charge a card replacement fee.

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