I Lost My Debit Card, What Should I Do?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

Updated on Thursday, April 18, 2019

You’ve dug through your purse, rifled through your drawers and turned the house upside down — but no matter where you look, you can’t find your debit card. What do you do now?

Whether you have a lost debit card, or you suspect it could have been stolen, here are the immediate steps you should take to protect yourself.

Log into your account online as soon as possible

Check your account balance immediately and go over your purchase history for any transactions you don’t recognize, even if they are in small amounts. Take note of any purchases you know are fraudulent or unauthorized, and write down all the details.

You might even be able to disable or lock your lost debit card via your bank’s app or website, said Kris Alban, executive vice president of iGrad, a San Diego-based financial literacy company.

“Bank of America, Wells Fargo and a few other banks offer this feature, making it possible to shut down the card yourself within seconds of theft or loss,” he said.

Call your bank and notify them about the lost debit card

Let your bank know that you have a lost debit card, and inform them of any suspicious transactions you’ve noted from checking your account online.

Below is a handy alphabetical table of contact phone numbers for major U.S. banks, depending on whether you’re calling from the U.S. or from abroad. If you can’t find your bank below, check their website for their toll-free customer service number.

BankFrom the U.S.From abroad
Bank of America800-432-1000+1 315-724-4022
Capital One800-655-2265+1 804-967-1000
Chase800-935-9935+1 713-262-3300
Citibank800-274-6660+1 813-604-3000
PNC Bank888-762-2265+1 412-803-7711
US Bank800-872-2567+1 503-401-9991
Wells Fargo800-869-3557Check number to call here

Decide whether you want to cancel the lost debit card outright and get a replacement, or simply put a temporary hold just in case it turns up somewhere in between your sofa cushions. There may be a fee for the replacement card or to have it rushed to you in case you need it right away.

Whatever the course of action, make sure to keep track of your conversation by asking for the confirmation number for your case and the name and employee ID of the person you speak to. Keep this information somewhere safe and easily accessible.

Understand your rights under the law

According to Alban, the sooner you report your lost debit card, the more likely it is you’ll recover any funds that were stolen.

“While debit cards don’t have the same protections as credit cards, there are federal laws that protect you,” he said.

Federal law stipulates the following:

  • If you contact your financial institution within two business days of the discovery of the missing card, if fraudulent charges have already been made, the most you’ll be responsible for is $50.
  • If you wait longer than two days to report a lost debit card, your liability increases to $500.
  • If you don’t inform your card issuer for more than 60 days after receiving your next statement, you’ll be responsible for all unauthorized charges.

Thanks to the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, you are not responsible for any charges incurred on your card after you’ve notified your bank of its loss.

Cancel any recurring or scheduled debit transactions

Make alternative arrangements to pay your bills, so you don’t get hit with late fees or get your electricity suddenly cut off without warning. Update your suppliers as needed with your new bank card information once you receive it.

Follow up with your bank in writing, if required

Some banks may ask you to provide written confirmation of any disputed transactions on you account; make sure you follow up in writing within 10 business days.

In most cases, your bank or card issuer has 10 business days to investigate the issue. If they need more time, they need to issue a temporary credit to your account of the disputed amount — minus $50, maximum — while they continue to investigate. They have to correct any errors within one business day after determining them and must report their findings to you within three business days.

Implement a plan of action to ensure it doesn’t happen again

Some measures you can put in place for your added security include changing the PIN number to your card and asking your bank to alert you when purchases are made over a certain amount.

Ensure your bank can get ahold of you in case of an emergency, and that you also have their toll-free number handy if you need to contact them again in a hurry.

To avoid an embarrassing situation where you find yourself unable to pay, consider getting a backup credit card for emergencies.