Can I File Charges If Someone Uses My Debit Card?

by Jerry Shaw
Contact your bank when you discover unauthorized debit card charges.

Whether you know the person who used your debit card without permission or you are a victim of identity theft, contact your bank immediately. Banks usually don’t hold you liable for fraudulent charges as long as you report fraud within certain time frames, depending on the financial institution. File a report with the police after you have contacted your bank if you want to start an investigation and file charges.

Unauthorized Charges

If you discover transactions you did not make on the card, you'll want to relieve yourself of any unauthorized charges. Banks can charge up to $50 if you report a card stolen, missing or used without your permission within two business days, under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Banks, however, often don’t charge you anything if you report it within that time. You could be held liable for $500 of unauthorized charges if you don’t report it within 60 days.

Police Report

Filing charges is a serious matter, so it’s important to provide the bank with all the facts if you know the culprit to avoid any misunderstandings or to straighten things out. Call the police on the phone or go to the station to fill out a police report. In cases of identity theft, reports help police in an investigation if fraudulent purchases are made in the future with the card. Crooks might use the card information weeks or months after obtaining your card or number.

Without Your Permission

Getting the police involved depends on what happened. For example, you could have loaned your card to a friend or family member to use once, but it was used again without your permission. The bank would issue you a new card and PIN, and take the charges off your account, but you would have to sign an affidavit with the police if you want to file charges.

Resolving Problem

Consult with a bank representative if you consider charges. It could be an issue settled outside of law enforcement, and you might not want to cause unnecessary friction if the problem can be resolved with friends or family members.

Criminal Act

On the other hand, you might know an acquaintance or someone else who somehow got your card or card number, and you suspect the person is an outright thief. Filing charges may become necessary if that person used it without your permission. A criminal act occurred just as if an anonymous person stole your identity. Police have difficulty finding culprits in identity theft cases, and banks often have insurance to protect customers from skimming, the method used to swipe information cards at ATMs, and other types of fraud. Filing charges helps serve justice for you and the financial institution if you have knowledge of the person involved in the crime.

About the Author

Jerry Shaw writes for Spice Marketing and LinkBlaze Marketing. His articles have appeared in Gannett and American Media Inc. publications. He is the author of "The Complete Guide to Trust and Estate Management" from Atlantic Publishing.

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