How do I handle a fraudulent charge on my debit card?
This happened to me (Kavya) recently and let me tell you it was scary to see a charge for $322.10 😳 on a random website I've never visited before pop up on my checking account. The only reason I caught it was because I randomly decided to open up my Wells Fargo one evening. Luckily the date of the pending transaction was the same day I checked my account.
Unlike credit cards, fraudulent charges on a debit card are harder to get refunded as debit cards don't come with a lot of protections. However, if you do file a claim for a fraudulent charge on a debit card, banks are required to investigate it.
What Should You Do?
1a) Fraudulent charge → ☎️ Call your bank immediately.
Ask them to look into the charge immediately and file a claim to have them investigate it. Write down the claim number to follow up on the investigation.
1b) Merchant charged you incorrectly or product never showed up → ☎️ Call the merchant first
It's often easier to resolve these claims with the merchant rather than the bank. If this proves to be futile, contact your bank immediately.
2) 📝 Provide as much detail as you can.
When making your case provide as much detail as you can. In my situation, the last time I had used my debit card was months ago at an ATM. I also had my debit card with me which showed my bank that this was clearly a fraudulent charge.
3) ⏱ Wait for a response. File a complaint if the bank refuses.
Usually, they'll be able to give a response on the call itself for whether or not they can refund you. In my case I was transferred to the claim department they were sending me a new debit card and that I would be refunded within 7-10 business days.
If it's a more complicated case it can take up to 35-40 business days.
If Wells Fargo denied my claim, I would have filed a complaint with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB will put pressure on the bank to investigate on your behalf.
Follow These Tips
⏳ Time is of the essence here.
Take action ASAP. The longer you wait, the harder it is for the bank to refund your claim.
💳 Use your credit card for larger purchases.
While a debit card keeps you from spending more than your bank balance, credit cards come with protections that shouldn't be overlooked, especially for expensive purchases.
🤫 Protect your Debit Card PIN.
It's often harder to prove a fraudulent charge when your PIN is used vs. when a debit card is used as a credit card. Be extremely careful when entering your PIN at an ATM or when making a purchase.
📣 Set Up Alerts
Most banks will allow you to set up text alerts when there are withdrawals or charges greater than $X on your checking account which helps you stay on top of account activity as well.
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Disclaimer: The content on Young, Not Broke is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.