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My Debit Card Number Was Used by Someone Else

Someone purchased $800.00 of merchandise apparently using my debit card although I have it in my possession. The charges are in another state. I have notified my bank, but am unclear as to what my liability is. Can you enlighten me?

You were wise to notify your bank. If you did not specifically tell them that you were making a claim that those purchases were unauthorized, contact the bank again and do so. If the bank asks you to put your claim in writing, we'd suggest you take care of it right away, since that will require the bank to provide you with provisional credit while it completes its investigation.

We assume you have not given permission to use your card number to anyone. If you have, your bank could refuse to reimburse you for any transactions made by that person.

However, your question makes this sound like someone "skimmed" your card number or obtained it in some other illegal way. If that's the case, you should receive complete reimbursement.

If you have not already done so, ask your bank to "hot list" your card number and issue a replacement. That should prevent the old number from being used again without your approval. Never use your debit card when it must leave your sight, in order to limit the potential for it to be skimmed. For example, don't allow a filling station attendant take a debit card inside to get a purchase authorization, unless you go with the card. We'd also recommend paying for restaurant tabs at the cashier, in person, rather than letting your server take the card out of your sight, particularly if you're not familiar with the restaurant.

Published on 1/10/07