How to Freeze a Debit Card to Stop a Fraudulent Transaction

How to Freeze a Debit Card to Stop a Fraudulent Transaction
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Fraudulent transactions can drain your bank account, sometimes before you even realize what happened. If you notice suspicious activity on your account connected to a debit card, move quickly to freeze it before additional damage occurs. The federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act protects you against financial loss from fraudulent transactions, depending on how fast you report the unauthorized activity to your bank.

Call your bank’s customer service number as soon as possible after you notice a fraudulent transaction. You might discover the transaction by logging in to your online banking account, by receiving an email alert for a transaction that you didn’t authorize or by checking your monthly statement.

Provide information such as the transaction number, amount and date to the bank in order to identify the transaction.

Request a freeze on your debit card in connection with the fraudulent activity. Once the bank freezes your debit card, no one, including you, will be able to use the card. Ask the bank to issue you a new debit card to replace the frozen debit card. This card will have a new number to replace your old debit card number.

Write a letter to your bank that details the fraudulent transaction, your notification and your request to freeze your debit card. Sign the letter and make a copy of it to keep in your files.

Mail the letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested.

Find out about your liability for any fraudulent transactions. Under the EFTA, if your debit card is lost or stolen, if you report the transaction within two business days, your liability is $50. If you wait more than two days but report it before 60 calendar days, your top liability is $500. If you allow more than 60 days to go by before reporting the fraudulent transaction, the bank can hold you liable for the entire loss. If your debit card isn’t lost or stolen and you discover the fraudulent transaction on your account statement, you have no liability for the transaction as long as you report it within 60 days of receiving the account statement.

Follow up with the bank to verify the removal of the fraudulent transaction. Make sure the bank adjusts your account properly in accordance with your liability for the fraudulent transaction.


  • Any recurring payments you had set up on your frozen debit card will become inactive. Renew these payments by entering your new debit card number with creditors.