Banks have security procedures to prevent unauthorized users from debiting your bank account. You also have a responsibility as the account holder to protect your private information from falling into the wrong hands. If someone does happen to debit your bank account without your permission, you have ways to resolve the situation.
Ways an Account is Compromised
First, understand the various ways that unauthorized parties can gain access to the funds in a bank account. To debit a bank account in person an individual needs the full account number along with identification matching the name and address on the account. Another way that the individual can debit the account is if he gains access to the debit card and PIN associated with the card. In some cases, unauthorized users can debit the account without the PIN if a retailer allows him to process the card as a credit card transaction. One other way for the individual to debit the account is if he has the online log-in information for the bank account. He can process a bill pay transaction (if available) or process an eCheck to send a payment to himself. Some scammers get bank account information using phishing scams, which trick account holders into entering bank account information into a spoof website.
When an unauthorized person debits your bank account, you generally must report the fraud within two days of the offense. You could be held liable for up to $50 in charges. After those two days, the amount of liability increases to as much as $500. After 60 days, the bank could choose to hold you liable for the full amount of the charges. Monitor your account regularly and report a problem to your bank as soon as possible.
After you report the fraud, the bank initiates an investigation of the charges or withdrawals. If the bank concludes that the funds were taken by an unauthorized individual, it reimburses the funds to the account. The investigation commonly takes about a month depending on individual bank policies.
If you know the person who debited the bank account without your permission, that complicates matters. If you willingly gave the person access to the card and PIN for your bank card or provided the person with your bank account number, you could be held liable for those charges.