How to protect your debit card from being hacked

how to protect your debit card from being hacked

There are several steps you can take to protect your debit card from being hacked, including checking your account often, using the ability to freeze your accounts, consider using credit cards for their built-in protection, and being smart about where you use your card. 

In this digital age, learning how to keep your finances safe from hackers is essential. Card fraud losses across the world increased by more than 10% between 2020 and 2021, the largest increase since 2018.1 Many people use debit cards to make everyday transactions, but debit cards offer limited protection. Learn how to protect your debit card from being hacked below!

Are Debit Cards Safe To Use? 

Debit cards are a convenient financial tool for spending and depositing money. However, a debit card offers minimal protection. You may accidentally jeopardize your finances every time you use your debit card to make transactions. One day you may unexpectedly have your debit card declined despite having money due to a fraudster! 

A debit card pulls money directly from your checking account. If someone steals your debit card number or physical card, your hard-earned money is at risk of being stolen. If you do not report unauthorized transactions immediately, you could be liable for the total amount! 

Debit cards are secure to use, but it’s in your best interest to monitor your statements at least once a week to prevent debit card fraud. Do not wait a whole month before checking your bank statement. Most financial institutions allow consumers to sign up for transaction alerts. You can get an email or text message whenever anyone uses your debit card. 

What To Do if You Are a Victim of Debit Card Fraud?

If you notice unauthorized charges on your debit card, you may be a victim of debit card fraud! The best action is to contact your bank or credit union immediately. The amount of time it takes for you to report fraudulent activity determines how much money you are responsible for paying. 

If your card is lost, you can try freezing your debit card. A freeze temporarily disables your ability to make transactions using the card. Unfortunately, freezing your card won’t stop pending transactions. If a fraudster found your card and used it before you were able to initiate a freeze, the payment will still go through. Once everything is sorted, you can remove the hold from your debit card.

How To Get Your Money Back When You Lost Your Debit Card

If you have lost your debit card, you must report the loss to your card issuer. Timely reports can limit consumer liability! The Electronic Fund Transfer Act protects consumers against stolen or lost debit cards as long as they make reports promptly. 

You cannot be held responsible for more than the total cost of unauthorized purchases or $50 (depending on which amount is less). To report a stolen or lost debit card, call customer service. 

An agent will ask you for details, such as when and where you assume the loss occurred. The financial institution will typically issue a new card through the mail. However, you may be able to pick up a new card in person at a local branch. It may take a few business days for the bank to issue a refund to your bank account. 

How To Get Your Money Back From Unauthorized Online Transactions

Suppose you have not lost your debit card but notice unusual transactions on your bank statement. In that case, your account information may have been stolen. It’s critical to notify your financial institution right away! 

The bank agent will ask for the transaction date, amount, and additional details. You will receive a new debit card through the mail or in person. The bank will issue a refund within a few days, but they will continue investigating. 

Consumers must report unusual transactions within 60 days after receiving bank statements. Suppose you do not regularly check your statement and make a report after 60 days. In that case, you may be financially responsible for all the unauthorized online purchases. 

In the event of extenuating circumstances, you may not be responsible for fraudulent purchases reported after 60 days. For example, if you were hospitalized and could not notify the bank, the notification period must get extended. An extension means you may not have to cover the cost of fraudulent purchases!

If you still have your physical card, you may wonder how a hacker stole your debit card number. Skimming is a common technique used by fraudsters to steal debit and credit card information. A skimming device is attached to ATMs and point of sale (POS) machines to steal data while you are paying for a service or item. 

The best way to protect yourself against skimmers is to visually and physically check card readers for tampering. If you notice a suspicious card reader, you can inform business management and contact the police.

How Long Do Refunds Take After Debit Card Fraud?

If you have been a victim of debit card fraud, you may want to get your money back quickly. Federal law states your bank must issue a refund within 10 days. However, the bank can take as long as 20 days if the account has not been open for more than thirty days. 

Once the bank discovers an error, they must remedy the issue within one business day. The bank must also report findings to you within three business days. 

However, suppose the bank or credit union has not completed their investigation. In that case, they will issue a temporary credit to your bank account while the investigation continues. The financial institution must resolve the fraud investigation within 45 days. 

However, the bank can take as long as 90 days to resolve an investigation for the following reasons:

Reasons for Extended Investigation PeriodDescription
1. Foreign Country TransactionsIf the disputed transactions occurred in a foreign country.
2. Transactions within 30 Days of Account OpeningIf the disputed transactions occurred within 30 days of account opening.
3. Point-of-Sale PurchasesIf the disputed transactions were point-of-sale purchases.

Are Consumers Better Protected From Credit Card Fraud?

One of the main differences between a debit card and a credit card is fraud protection. Consumers receive more protection against credit card fraud than debit card fraud. 

Zero Liability Protection 

You will be hard-pressed to find a credit card company that does not offer zero liability protection. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, a zero liability policy protects consumers against unauthorized credit card purchases made within 60 days. You will not be liable for fraudulent purchases. 

Filing Chargebacks

Credit card companies offer more consumer protection than banks or credit unions. So using your credit card when shopping online from less secure websites is better. Suppose you buy a shirt online that arrived damaged or never made it to your door. Consumers have the right to file a chargeback to get refunds sent to their credit accounts. A chargeback protects consumers against fraudulent transactions and allows them to get refunds. 

FAQS on How To Protect Your Debit Card From Being Hacked

How do debit cards differ from credit cards in terms of security against fraud?

While both credit and debit cards offer security features, credit cards generally provide better protection against fraudulent charges. Debit cards pull money directly from your bank account, making them more susceptible to fraud.

I’ve noticed unfamiliar transactions on my bank statements. What should I do?

If you spot any unfamiliar or fraudulent transactions on your bank statements, contact your bank immediately. It’s essential to report debit card fraud as soon as possible to limit potential losses.

What precautions should I take when using my debit card online?

When using your card online, ensure you’re shopping from reputable websites with secure payment gateways. Be wary of phishing scams that try to steal your account online information. Always look for “https://” in the URL and a padlock symbol in the address bar.

How can I differentiate between credit and debit cards in terms of fraud protection?

Credit cards often offer features like Zero Liability Protection and the ability to file chargebacks, making them more secure against fraud than debit cards.

If I suspect a fraudulent transaction on my debit card, how soon should I inform the bank?

You should contact your bank immediately upon noticing any unauthorized or suspicious transactions. The sooner you report fraud, the better your chances of recovering lost funds.

What are phishing scams, and how can they affect my bank account online?

These scams involve fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, and card details, by disguising them as trustworthy entities. These scams can lead to unauthorized access to your account online and sometimes even get your account information.

How can I protect myself from fraud—specifically related to charges—when using online banking?

Use strong, unique passwords for your online banking account, enable two-factor authentication, and regularly monitor your bank statements for any fraudulent charges.

Is it safe to withdraw cash from any ATM using my debit card?

While most ATMs are safe, it’s essential to be cautious. Check the machine for any signs of tampering or skimming devices. Preferably, use ATMs located within bank premises or well-lit areas.

How can bank alerts help in preventing debit card fraud?

Bank alerts notify you of any transactions or changes in your account. By setting up bank alerts, you can receive real-time notifications for withdrawals, purchases, or any suspicious activities, allowing you to take immediate action if needed.

Remember, always prioritize your safety and security when dealing with financial matters. Regularly updating passwords, monitoring bank statements, and being cautious about where and how you use your debit card can go a long way in protecting against fraud.

The Bottom Line With CreditNinja

It’s critical to be vigilant of card readers and online websites to protect your debit card from hackers. Fraudsters use various tactics to steal your account number to make unauthorized purchases and clear a checking account. However, you can easily detect fraud by monitoring your statements at least once weekly. 

The best way to protect your debit card information is to use a credit card instead. Credit cards offer better consumer protection and financial rewards. Suppose you ever need money to cover an unexpected expense. In that case, a credit card can be a better alternative than some bad credit loans, such as payday loans or title loans. Getting a line of credit from a credit card issuer can be an excellent financial investment that helps you grow your credit score. To learn more about financial safety and other topics related to personal finance, check out CreditNinja’s Dojo!


  1. Card fraud value worldwide | Statista
  2. Paying with a credit card is safer than a debit card or cash | CNBC
  3. How do I get my money back after an unauthorized transaction? | CFB

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